When I joined Vertex in 2018, I knew I was embarking on an exciting journey during a pivotal time in the company’s history. Vertex has spent 30 years discovering and developing medicines for serious diseases, and the company has grown into a leading global biotech company, with a deep history and commitment to giving back. I was honored to become the head of its newly established Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) function and Executive Director of The Vertex Foundation.
As I reflect on my first year here, the spirit of entrepreneurship and dedication to giving back that so defines Vertex has naturally influenced the work of The Vertex Foundation, Inc. (the “Foundation”), a nonprofit 501(c)3 foundation that was established in 2017. Working closely with the Foundation’s Board of Directors, we solidified its overarching mission: to improve the lives of people with serious diseases and in its communities through education, innovation and health programs. These pillars are the foundation of our work. I plan to talk more about innovation and health programs in future posts, but for now, I’d like to shine the spotlight on education.
Together, the Foundation and Vertex have a unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of students to love science and pursue STEAM fields. We care deeply about investing in and growing future innovators. This is why Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education is one of Vertex and the Foundation’s focus areas. Vertex’s long-standing commitment to STEAM is evidenced by its on-site Learning Labs that serve as hubs to inspire, teach and engage with science educators and students. In 2017 when Vertex announced its 10-year, $500 million corporate giving commitment, it committed $50 million to STEAM education.
Through its support of STEAM education, the Foundation also seeks to address social challenges in its communities. Often STEAM-related experiences, supplies, equipment and materials can present a financial challenge for resource-strapped schools. To address this challenge, this year, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the Foundation made a donation to DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit online crowd-funding platform through which teachers can request funding for school-related programs. Through this initiative, the Foundation funded 205 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classroom programs at 113 Boston and San Diego public schools with high economic need. These donations, which supported projects ranging from lab projects to field trips, reached nearly 25,000 students at the elementary, middle and high school levels and supported 168 teachers. As a result of this project, we’ve received numerous messages of appreciation from teachers. One recently wrote:
“You have shown my students that STEM should be a core part of every child's education, whatever their background. Thank you for helping provide them with new and exciting materials that will allow their imaginations to flourish.”
In addition to DonorsChoose.org, the Foundation and Vertex partner with a number of other organizations that provide STEM programs. One such example is i2 Learning, a non-profit focused on redefining interactive STEM education in classrooms. One of my favorite experiences since joining Vertex was watching a group of students in East Boston conduct science experiments through i2 Learning. These hands-on activities not only created excitement among the students, but also helped them cultivate essential skills like collaboration and communication. I’m proud that the Foundation’s support will enable i2 Learning to reach 20,000 students and 1,000 teachers across Massachusetts in 2019.
Programs like DonorsChoose.org and i2 Learning are natural partners for the Foundation because their goals align particularly well with its mission. They are just a few examples of how Vertex and the Foundation give back to the community., To learn more, visit: https://www.vrtx.com/responsibility/vertex-foundation.
Don’t forget to check back for future posts about innovation and health programs and to hear more about our work in these important areas.