We created the Vertex Foundation as a long-term source of charitable giving to make a difference in the lives of people living with serious diseases and in our communities. In 2019, the Foundation made $7.3 million in grants in support of its core focus areas: STEAM education, social innovation, healthy families, as well as our employee Matching Gift and Vertex Volunteers programs. We also expanded our reach globally and formalized a strategy to help measure the impact that the programs we support have had on the lives they have touched. I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made as a new corporate foundation.
Here are some key highlights from the past year.
One of the pillars of the Foundation’s work is promoting healthy families. We know that a child living with a serious illness impacts the whole family. That is why we’re proud to announce new partnerships, including one with Ronald McDonald House Charities to support siblings and families. Our donation of $1,215,000 will support the construction of a new Ronald McDonald House at the new children’s hospital in Dublin, Ireland. The new Ronald McDonald House will provide twice as many families with a free place to stay while their children are in the hospital. We’re also pleased to support Ronald McDonald House Charities in San Diego, California with the building of a new family welcome center.
Viewing plans for the new Welcome Center: Gabi Rivers, Chief Operations Officer, RMHC-San Diego; Katharine Jensen, Executive Director of the Vertex Foundation, and Head of Corporate Responsibility at Vertex Pharmaceuticals; and Sabine Hadida, Ph.D., Vice President and Head of Chemistry for Vertex’s San Diego research team, and a Director on the Vertex Foundation Board
Another new partnership is with Barretstown Children’s Charity, which provides free, specially designed camps and programs for children living with serious illnesses and their families. The Foundation made a donation of €250,000 (approximately $275,000 USD) that will enable Barretstown to run a special camp in Ireland for 125 siblings of children living with serious illnesses. We have a shared mission of helping people with serious illnesses and this partnership is a chance for us to make a difference to the lives of those who can benefit from Barretstown’s programs.
Barretstown camper Katie Mai (5), with her brothers Charlie (7) and Jack (9) with Katharine Jensen, Executive Director of the Vertex Foundation, and Head of Corporate Responsibility at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Dee Ahern, CEO of Barretstown
One more example of the Vertex Foundation’s support for healthy families was funding a summer camp for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families at Camp Sunshine. The Foundation’s grant will fund one camp session and help 160 people attend this impactful program in Maine.
Another area of focus for the Foundation is social innovation to enable innovative solutions to community challenges. In 2019 we supported 10 organizations in this focus area, including City Year in Boston, MA and London, UK and RIZE Massachusetts. City Year is an education nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students and systemically under-resourced schools succeed. RIZE Massachusetts is a nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts and across the U.S., the opioid epidemic continues to have a devastating impact and we want to support scalable and sustainable solutions to reduce addiction and deaths.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Education
STEAM education is the third pillar for the Foundation because we believe that education powers innovation and we care deeply about developing the next generation of innovators. We supported 15 organizations in Boston, MA, San Diego, CA and the United Kingdom in STEAM initiatives. This includes i2 Learning, Massachusetts General Hospital Youth Scholars program, the Museum of Science (in Boston), DonorsChoose.org and STEM Learning’s Project ENTHUSE (in the UK). From STEAM summer camps to a mobile simulation learning lab, we are passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists. I am especially excited about our partnerships with the Museum of Science and i2 Learning, which will bring STEAM to life for many students. Working with the Museum of Science, every middle school student in the Boston Public School system will have the opportunity to participate in a STEM Explorers field trip. And our partnership with i2 Learning, a nonprofit that transforms classrooms into learning labs, will facilitate STEM Week programs in Massachusetts and San Diego.
Through our Matching Gift and Vertex Volunteers programs we aim to expand our reach and support the causes that employees care about. The Matching Gift program is a year-round program that matches employees’ donations to eligible nonprofit organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000 annually per employee. Together, Vertexians and the Foundation supported 1,538 nonprofits and provided nearly $2.4 million to organizations in 2019. Since the launch of this program in November of 2017, more than 1,500 employees have supported more than 2,000 organizations.
For our 11th annual Day of Service, more than 1,200 volunteers contributed 4,400 hours to 80 projects across 18 sites. We heard from our teams around the globe about the positive impacts of the day. Check out this video to hear from some of them
We also believe that being a good partner in our communities means helping in times of natural disaster. In response to wildfires in California and bushfires in Australia, the Foundation supported on-the-ground relief efforts though Direct Relief, the Australian Red Cross and Americares. To ensure our partners maintain a constant state of readiness in times of disasters and emergencies, we became an Americares Emergency Response Partner in 2019.
Looking Ahead to 2020
As with everything we do at Vertex, we continually push ourselves to do more and do better. The Vertex Foundation has a strong base on which to build and we will look for new ways to deepen our impact in the Foundation’s focus areas of STEAM education, social innovation and healthy families. We also aim to continue to expand our global reach, and to increase employee engagement with the Matching Gift and Vertex Volunteers programs. An exciting development in 2020 is hearing from our grantees about their impact. Last year we worked to define common criteria and outcome measures across each of the focus areas, to allow us to quantify progress and adjust the Foundation’s approach accordingly. Two other new initiatives launching this year will be in support of training — a nonprofit Board training program for Vertexians who serve with organizations and an impact measurement training to support grantees’ organizational capacity. We look forward to continuing to share our progress with you throughout the year.