Biogen Idec Foundation: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: The Biogen Idec Foundation has also solidified its focus on science education programs and also gives toward general community causes like culture and homelessness.

IP TAKE: As the corporation continues to grow following a boost in revenue, the foundation also seems to be ramping up giving. Online proposals are accepted from eligible organizations.

PROFILE: The Biogen Idec Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Cambridge-based drug maker by the same name. The foundation gives to benefit the communities it operates. Before getting too far into the details of what the foundation supports, it’s important to note that aside from its international grants, the stated communities the Biogen Foundation supports are San Diego, Cambridge, greater Boston, Durham, and Raleigh, with the current emphasis leaning more towards the Massachusetts and North Carolina cities.

Biogen itself is a global biotechnology firm, known for developing therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, and autoimmune disorders. They recently had a breakthrough on a drug for treatment of multiple sclerosis, which has been a big boost for the company. That kind of success suggests the million-dollar-plus grants might not be isolated incidents, despite the fact that the partnership with the museum is a particularly good fit.

Similar to many science and tech company foundations, Biogen’s STEM education funding is driven by a desire to bring a vibrant young generation of people into the field. The mission of the foundation is “improving the quality of people’s lives and contributing to the vitality of the communities where we operate, with a special emphasis on innovative ways to promote science literacy and encourage young people to consider science careers.”

In terms of overall grant programming, Biogen has three major funding areas in the U.S. Firstly, its grants get behind “innovative STEM education programs and initiatives that strengthen the communities...in Greater Boston and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.” The foundation’s “Ignite the Power of STEM” grants, meanwhile, go to more than 50 primary and secondary schools per year, helping those schools and their teachers “to bring innovative science programming to their students.” Lastly, its “U.S. Employee Matching Gifts Program” “matches Biogen employee donations to eligible organizations dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000 per employee, per year.”

The foundation also offers grants outside the U.S. Its International Grants Program “supports science education and community programs in the regions where Biogen operates,” and the foundation highlights beneficiaries in Denmark and Germany in particular.

In addition to its direct giving, the center also has a “dedicated laboratory classroom that hosts local middle and high school students free of charge” at its main U.S. campuses in Massachusetts and North Carolina. It also hosts a number of summer sessions to give high school students hands-on experience in biotechnology.

The foundation website accepts online proposals following an eligibility quiz. Applications for U.S. grants are considered throughout the year on a quarterly basis. Its Ignite the Power of STEM program accepts applications from October 15 to January 15.

PEOPLE: 

  • Chris Barr, Executive Director, Biogen Foundation and Associate Director, Biogen Community Relations 

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