While these issues exist nationwide, they are particularly pressing in California. South San Francisco faces even greater challenges. Once known as the “Industrial City” for its steel mills and paint factories, South San Francisco has become a thriving biotech hub. This transformation is often lost on local students, however. More than 30% are English-language learners and 40% come from low-income families. Only one in three goes on to college. Until recently, most couldn’t even dream of a fulfilling and productive career in the sciences.
With its well-known support for education, Genentech (a member of the Roche group) saw this as an opportunity to help and invest in its local community. The biotechnology fi rm partnered with the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) to launch “Futurelab”: a science-education program for all students in grades K–12, designed to create a pipeline of future scientific talent in the Bay Area.
By promoting hands-on learning, mentorship, and healthy doses of teamwork, Genentech hopes to ignite “the magic of discovery” in children’s natural desire to learn and solve problems. The company’s goal is to spark a love of exploration and innovation in the fascinating world of science.
Futurelab’s groundbreaking curriculum was showcased in a keynote address by Carla Boragno, Vice President Site Services, Genentech, at the ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference, 20 February 2018, in Arlington, Virginia.
“Science starts with students,” she said. “It can take years for our scientists to develop a new medicine. And in that time, a student can develop into a scientist—just in time to start work on the next medicine.
“We designed our Futurelab programs with the goal ofinspiring students to pursue careers that are needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow, right in their own backyard,” she said. “These students are the future of science, and we want to arm them with the skills needed to solve some of the greatest unmet needs in medicine and beyond. Through Futurelab, our mission is to develop a center of science education excellence in South San Francisco for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and create a pipeline for future talent.”
Futurelab has three distinct programs for students of different ages. They are designed to bring science to life by progressing from “excite” to “engage” and finally, “equip.”