Scripps Research Receives Gift Toward Science Education

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust will support the institute's internship and education programs with a $1.8 million donation

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Continuing a high-impact partnership that dates back to 2005, Scripps Research Institute’s Florida Campus received a philanthropic gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to support science education training opportunities for local elementary, middle, and high school students.

Since its inception shortly after the debut of the Jupiter campus, the Scripps Research Education Outreach and Community Engagement program has offered workshops, tours, classroom lessons, and summer internships to students from Palm Beach County to offer insight into biomedical research and other topics in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

More than 175 students from Palm Beach County have participated in Scripps Research’s High School Student Internship Program. Interns typically spend their summer on the Florida campus as “Scripps Research Kenan Fellows.” More than 97 percent of these students go on to attend the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities, with more than 80 percent opting to major in a STEM field.

Sergine Brutus

Sergine Brutus, PhD, recently earned her doctorate in biological sciences from Harvard University. A Palm Beach Gardens High School graduate, she credits her Scripps Research internship experience with exposing her to the scientific world. “By getting early research experience, I gained an edge in my academic learning. Because I could demonstrate actual in-lab skills, I was able to get into other internships and advanced programs. I truly believe the Kenan Fellows program played a large role in setting me on this positive trajectory” she said.

“Thanks to our 16-year partnership with the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, we have been able to provide students a chance to preview extraordinary careers in biomedical research,” says Scripps Research, Florida Executive Vice President Douglas Bingham. “It’s apparent these opportunities are inspiring and challenging students to consider knowledge-economy careers they might have never pursued, thus creating an outsized positive impact on our community.”

A gift designed to inspire

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust will invest in the institute’s educational programs with a commitment of $1.8 million. They hope that this contribution will inspire other science education supporters in the community to consider Scripps Research as part of their contributions to academics.

The Kenan Charitable Trust endorsed these programs as part of its mission to support educational opportunity to the benefit of humanity. The trust has seen how many young people touched by the programming go on to pursue science and technology careers, with many Scripps Research Kenan Fellows going on to research cancer treatments, probe diseases like Alzheimer’s, thrive in careers in public health and medicine, and more.

The Trust was formed as a bequest from chemist and engineer William Rand Kenan, Jr., intended for the “substantial benefit to mankind.”

“I have always believed firmly that a good education is the most cherished gift an individual can receive,” Mr. Kenan wrote in his will.

The trust says its intent is to help organizations build runways in order to develop new programs, with measurable outcomes, in order to inspire other funders. It has found the Scripps Research Education Outreach and Community Engagement program a worthy investment in the futures of area youth, benefitting society as a whole.

A life-changing science experience

Scripps Research Kenan Fellows train in lab techniques and safety, and conduct research under the mentorship of institute scientists and graduate students.

“The productivity of these young scholars has been truly remarkable,” says Scripps Research Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Phil Dawson, PhD. “Under the guidance of our mentors, the Kenan Fellows have collectively earned co-authorship on seven published manuscripts, on topics ranging from DNA damage to the design of microplates.”

Fellows also participate in classes designed to boost their development as scientists. The selective program is geared toward students preparing to enter junior or senior year at high schools in Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The summer program reflects Scripps Research’s commitment to encouraging students who have been historically underrepresented in the sciences to consider STEM careers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both challenges and new opportunities in 2020 and 2021, according to program coordinator Rosie Albarran-Zeckler, PhD. Virtual lessons have taken the place of in-person lessons for now. The relevance of the lessons truly hits home.

“Many laboratories at Scripps Research are actually working on next-generation vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, so we want students to see what’s possible in STEM,” Albarran-Zeckler said. “We hope to host the 2021 internship on campus, as we have in previous years. However, some components of the program may have to take place virtually as a necessary pandemic precaution.”

Applications for the 2021 Scripps Research Kenan Fellows summer internship program are being accepted through March 1. To apply, visit scripps.edu/internship.

Every philanthropic gift toward education and community outreach at ScrippsResearch, Florida elevates academic quality, impacts more educators and youth, and ignites new sparks of curiosity and passion for discovery, says Scripps Research Sr. Philanthropy Director, Tara Holcomb.

“Funds invested in educational programming at Scripps Research, Florida not only guarantee the longevity of its educational programs but enable further outreach into the local community,” she adds.

For more information, or to learn more about joining the Kenan Trust in supporting STEM educational opportunities at Scripps Research, Florida, contact philanthropy-florida@scripps.edu or Tara Holcomb, Senior Director of Philanthropy, at (561) 228-2013.

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