Biogen Foundation Awards Citizen Schools $2M Grant in Support of STEM Education


Citizen Schools has been awarded a $2M grant from the Biogen Foundation as part of the foundation's recently announced STAR Initiative.  As 1 of 6 recipients of the STAR (Science, Teacher Support, Access and Readiness) Initiative, Citizen Schools will expand its signature apprenticeship program to provide hands-on STEM courses, taught by experts, to thousands of middle school students in the Somerville district, and to support classroom teacher instruction during the school day.

Citizen Schools apprenticeships connect middle school students with expert volunteers from the community who provide hands-on, project-based learning experiences that connect what they're learning in school to real-world career pathways. Students explore new fields, learn new skills, and build a foundation for their future. 76% of Citizen Schools students express an interest in STEM, and 30% more likely than low income students nationally to earn a post-secondary degree in a STEM field.

"Since welcoming the first class of Citizen Schools students to their community lab in Cambridge in 2008, Biogen has been the ultimate champion of our program,"  Megan Bird, Executive Director, Citizen Schools Massachusetts. "With this investment, we are excited to build and strengthen this partnership with the Biogen Foundation, while we focus on growing our footprint in Somerville, providing students with access to STEM mentors and exposure to new fields.”

As part of this grant, Citizen Schools will also explore opportunities to launch its new pilot program, Catalyst, in Somerville and Cambridge over the next 4 years. Catalyst pairs classroom teachers with corporate volunteers to deliver engaging, real-world projects in middle school classrooms during the school day. Together with families, teachers, and corporations, Citizen Schools is working to ensure all children have equitable access to the kinds of learning experiences and caring adults that build critical skills and help them chart their pathways into the future of work.

"Middle school is such a critical time in development, and we know that students who have access and exposure to a STEM mentor and report an interest in STEM fields in middle school are far more likely to pursue STEM careers," Emily McCann, CEO, Citizen Schools. "With this grant, the Biogen Foundation is not just providing our students with engaging STEM learning opportunities today, but exposing them to future pathways into the workforce."