Amgen Foundation: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: Amgen Foundation is the philanthropic arm of one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies. The foundation makes grants in two areas—science education, and community improvement in areas where the company operates. Amgen Foundation’s science education program splits its giving between teacher development, and directly providing students with hands-on learning experiences.

IP TAKE: Amgen gives both big and small: multi-million dollar grants for huge, ongoing initiatives, and modest grants to more limited programs. Organizations in communities where Amgen operates have a definite advantage, and the foundation accepts LOI’s year-round.

PROFILE: The philanthropic arm of one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies, the Amgen Foundation “ seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators, and invest in strengthening communities where Amgen staff members live and work.”

Amgen makes grants locally and nationally in the United States, Puerto Rico and Europe, and has a stated commitment toward cultivating more women and underrepresented minorities working in science fields. Amgen Foundation recently gave around $18 million in a recent year. Grant amounts start at $10,000 but can range into the multi-millions. For science education, the foundation has two key programs of interest: one for students, and the other for teachers.

The goal of Amgen’s Programs for Students is to give students and teachers the resources that will encourage young people to pursue science careers, and the foundation claims that it gives “2,000,000 Students Hands-on Experiences in Science.” The first of these, the Amgen Biotech Experience, collaborates with “leadership from university and other partners” to give “teacher professional development, teaching materials, and research-grade lab equipment to high schools” in the U.S. and Great Britain. Next is the Amgen Scholars program, which offers “cutting-edge research experiences and exposure to biotechnology and drug discovery” to undergraduate students at select universities in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Then there is Amgen BioTalents, which is limited to Puerto Rico, where it offers training and exposure to the biomanufacturing process, industrial legal and safety standards, and management and leadership development. Lastly, Amgen has partnered with MIT to develop an online course that exposes students to “biologics manufacturing, increases global undergraduate exposure to the field, and encourages students to pursue careers in manufacturing life-saving medications.”

Amgen also offers several programs providing support for teachers. Along with the Biotech Experience and MIT collaborations described above, the foundation’s Teacher Support also offers Amgen Teach, which gives European teachers “training workshops and distance-learning events...that emphasize hands-on, inquiry-based experiential learning for their students.” Another one of the foundation’s signature programs is a multi-million, multi-year commitment to Teach for America to send recent college graduates in science and math to teach in rural and urban schools. The foundation has also partnered with the online classroom platform Khan Academy through both financial support and through a review of Khan’s biology library to review and ensure the quality of its online lessons. Finally, in collaboration with MIT and the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning, Amgen offers the Amgen Biology Teacher Education Program to give “cutting-edge, competency-based teacher education for the life sciences at the middle and secondary school level.”

Starting in 1992, K-12 science teachers in the corporation’s communities have been able to compete for the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE), which contributes $5,000 to winning teachers and an additional $5,000 to each teacher’s school to improve its science curriculum. The current status of AASTE is unclear however, and last announced winners in 2013.

Giving areas can be reviewed by taking a look at the foundation’s grants report.

Ready to get started? First, take a look at the Letter of Inquiry Checklist and the Grant Application Checklist to get all your ducks in a row. LOIs are reviewed quarterly and must be sent in online.


  • Eduardo Cetlin, President,