Vertex commits more than $1 million to support education for BPS students and to prepare teachers for new science education standards
-Company dedicates 3,000 square foot learning laboratory at new Fan Pier headquarters to local community-
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced a three-year, approximately $1.5 million collaboration with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) to support a range of activities aimed at enhancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
As part of the collaboration, Vertex will focus on two BPS high schools in South Boston – Boston Green Academy and Excel High School – where programs will aim to increase student participation and achievement in advanced placement (AP) courses and prepare teachers for the national “Next Generation Science Standards” being implemented next year.
Vertex also today announced the dedication of a new 3,000 square foot learning laboratory being constructed at its future headquarters in the Innovation District.
The learning laboratory will be available for use by BPS and other community groups, allowing students and teachers to conduct scientific projects alongside Vertex scientists.
“The multi-year commitment helps us plan for the sustainability and growth of our STEM education programs, and the resources provided through Vertex’s learning lab will be an invaluable asset as we implement the new science education guidelines across the district.”
“We’re delighted to join with the BPS to strengthen science education and make a difference in the lives of students and teachers in our local schools,” said Jeff Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer of Vertex. “Massachusetts has long been known as a state where innovation thrives, and we look forward to supporting the students who will be our future scientists. I hope that in the years ahead, this collaboration will be a model for other similar programs in our communities.”
“It is increasingly important for young people to understand and apply science, technology, engineering and math principles in order to be successful in our global economy,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Vertex is an example of a rapidly expanding local company that recognizes the importance of investing in the development of future STEM leaders who are growing up in its own neighborhood. This collaboration is more than a financial commitment – it is a commitment by Vertex to work alongside our students and teachers so that together, the people of Boston can achieve even greater things in the life sciences in the years to come.”
The collaboration includes multiple programs aimed at supporting STEM education and preparing students for college and STEM-related careers:
Mayor Menino kicks off the 2012 International BIO Convention, welcoming delegates to Boston for the world’s largest biotech and life sciences convention. The Mayor and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Jeff Leiden also announced plans for Vertex’s growing presence in Boston, including a three-year, approximately $1.5 million collaboration between Vertex and Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Vertex’s lease for 98,000 square feet in Boston’s Innovation District for small-scale manufacturing and other logistical functions.
• Advanced Placement (AP) Support: The core element of the collaboration is focused on supporting multiple activities to increase participation and performance in AP subject areas, including AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The goals of these activities are to reduce the achievement and access gaps for underserved students and to prepare them for college-level scientific courses.
• Learning Lab: Vertex today announced the dedication of a 3,000 square foot learning laboratory, which is currently under construction at its new headquarters at Fan Pier in Boston’s Innovation District. This facility will provide students and teachers the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies and will consist of both laboratory and classroom space for approximately 30 students. Students from the two South Boston schools, as well as other local schools and community groups, will be able to use the Vertex learning lab alongside Vertex scientists and staff to establish lab and scientific inquiry skills that could be applied in future high school and college-level science courses. The Vertex learning lab also will provide teachers with the resources and experience to help learn about and implement the instruction techniques expected under the new science education guidelines. More than 250 Vertex employee volunteers will support this initiative by staffing the lab during community education activities throughout the year.
• Teacher-Researcher Fellowship Program: Vertex’s collaboration also recognizes that supporting teachers and encouraging their continued professional development is vital to student achievement and success at the university level. As a result, Vertex will sponsor a teacher-researcher fellowship program where teachers from the two South Boston schools will be partnered with Vertex scientists and exposed to current research and laboratory techniques and skills. These teachers will be tasked with returning to their schools to share these experiences with their colleagues.
• University Scholarships: Under this collaboration, Vertex will also award one university scholarship per year to a student from the two South Boston schools. The scholarship will include full financial support to attend a Massachusetts state college or university, up to $25,000 per year per student for four years. These funds will either provide for the entire cost of attendance for four years or complement other existing scholarships available to the student to ensure the student receives full financial support for tuition, fees and other related expenses.
• Internship Program: Students from each of the two South Boston schools will be eligible for an internship program at Vertex as part of the Mayor’s Summer Jobs campaign. The program will pair these students with Vertex scientists and staff to help prepare them for various careers in the life sciences.
“We are encouraged by Vertex’s commitment to supporting STEM education within the BPS through such a broad and comprehensive program,” said, Dr. Carol R. Johnson, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. “The multi-year commitment helps us plan for the sustainability and growth of our STEM education programs, and the resources provided through Vertex’s learning lab will be an invaluable asset as we implement the new science education guidelines across the district.”
Importantly, Vertex and the BPS structured this collaboration to ensure continuity across the various initiatives and to allow for measurable results within each program. The Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) will administer certain components of the AP program and will conduct robust measurement activities on the program’s progress. The majority of the collaboration’s components will begin as part of the 2013 school year and will run for three consecutive years, through 2016.
About the Boston Public Schools (BPS)
The Boston Public Schools, the birthplace of public education in the United States, serves more than 56,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 125 schools.
Vertex creates new possibilities in medicine. Our team discovers, develops and commercializes innovative therapies so people with serious diseases can lead better lives. Vertex scientists and our collaborators are working on new medicines to cure or significantly advance the treatment of hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy and other life-threatening diseases.
Founded more than 20 years ago in Cambridge, Mass., we now have ongoing worldwide research programs and sites in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Today, Vertex has more than 2,000 employees around the world, and Science magazine named Vertex number one on its 2011 list of Top Employers in the life sciences.
Vertex’s press releases are available at www.vrtx.com.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Zachry Barber, 617-444-6992
Kristina Coppola, 617-444-6992
Matthew Wilder, 617-635-9494