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Preparing the New Generation of STEM Leaders: Genentech’s Futurelab+ Biotechnology Education Initiative

May 20, 2022

At a Glance

To expose learners and educators to education and career pathways across biotechnology, Futurelab+ brought together a coalition of partners to develop an innovative, modular, high school biotechnology curriculum instructional materials, and career navigation resources.

Contributors
Genna Petrolla Senior Program Manager, Work Unit
Practices & Centers

Careers in biotechnology are platforms for economic advancement, offering high wages and projected sector growth. Biological technician jobs are projected to keep pace with other occupations and grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, with about 11,800 openings each year.

But biotechnology education is not offered in many schools across the country, limiting career options for many students. Learners from low-income households, and populations current and historically excluded from STEM, often lack equal access to the exposure, skills, and experiences that could lead to careers in the biotech industry.But biotechnology education is not offered in many schools across the country, limiting career options for many students. Learners from from low-income households, and populations current and historically excluded from STEM, often lack equal access to the exposure, skills, and experiences that could lead to careers in the biotech industry.

Futurelab+, an ambitious, partner-driven initiative supported by Genentech, addresses this opportunity by directly supporting educators and engaging young adults excited about science and medicine through lessons and labs that have real world relevance and connections to industry. Futurelab+ has the ultimate goal of helping build a more racially and ethnically diverse and inclusive future workforce for the biotechnology and healthcare industries.

The core elements of Futurelab+ are:

  • New Curriculum: The centerpiece of Futurelab+ is an industry-aligned, open-source high school biotech curriculum written by and for teachers. The curriculum covers two years of instruction, including hands-on labs, interactive resources, and career exploration tools designed to engage all learners, especially those from historically-excluded groups in the biotech industry. This curriculum is modular and flexible and will be available for free to teachers across the US.
  • Teacher Incubator & Educator Community: An evolving program providing professional development, resources, and ongoing support to high school science educators. The Teacher Incubator prioritizes those teaching in Title 1 schools, equipping them to deliver the Futurelab+ curriculum, targeted professional development, lab equipment, stipends, and opportunities to connect with industry professionals. The Educator Community is open to all teachers and aims to foster a community to help sustain and reach more students with biotech education.
  • Employee Volunteer Network: Leveraging collective expertise, the Futurelab+ employee volunteer network will support, design and implement meaningful connections between biotech professionals and educators and students. These employee engagement experiences enhance the curriculum and the classroom experience by shedding light on real-world applications of biotech concepts, helping young people understand the wide range of opportunities in biotech and career journeys of current professionals.

Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a strategic advisor, helping to ensure Futurelab+ is positioned for long-term success and sustainability. Our role is to assist with employee engagement programming that reinforces the program’s focus on honoring educators’ and young people’s lived experiences, enabling them to draw connections between identity, skills, interests, and future career options.

To increase adoption and access to such curricula in California and beyond, the Futurelab+ curriculum was designed to align with the California Career Technical Education (CTE) Model Curriculum Standards for Biotechnology, meet at least one year of the University of California science (D) subject requirement, and incorporate some of the three-dimensional learning innovations of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The American Institute of Research (AIR) reviewed the curriculum against this set of standards. Evidence-based reports for each available unit can be accessed below.

Evidence-based reports:

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