Advancing Science In Our Own Backyard

Over the last 40 years, South San Francisco slowly transformed from an industrial city — filled with steel mills and paint factories — into one of the largest biotech hubs in the United States. And while the city never lost its small-town feel or its diversity of people and ideas, other complex challenges, particularly in the school system, emerged.

In South San Francisco, more than 30 percent of students are English language learners and 40 percent come from low-income families. And, while schools here have higher graduation rates than the state average, only one in three students goes on to attend a four-year university. Schools in South San Francisco needed help getting students more engaged in science and better prepared for the dynamic career opportunities available to them locally.

Futurelab, Genentech’s award-winning partnership with South San Francisco schools, aims to change this.

Futurelab is a hyper-local STEM education initiative that supports all K-12 students in the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) and gets them excited to learn about science, improves their college readiness and inspires them to pursue careers in STEM fields. Futurelab features unique programs for students of different ages: Gene Academy, Helix Cup, and Science Garage.

Futurelab is about the magic of discovery. Our approach is focused on creating opportunities for hands-on learning, promoting teamwork, discovery and resilience. We've seen how this approach can awaken and excite students who weren't previously interested in science, and we know from experience that innovation comes from many places, not just from science or technology experts.

Through Futurelab, we also support teacher development for every science teacher in the school district; provide buses, funding and employee chaperones for student field trips; and help fund classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org with a $500 matching grant for every teacher in South San Francisco. Each May, we also help inspire students to dream big by providing a number of scholarships to high school seniors - including two four-year scholarships of $50,000 per year to exceptional students to give them the opportunity to pursue a degree in STEM.

Across everything we do through Futurelab, we’re focused on achieving our ultimate goal: to inspire students to reach their potential as the next generation of innovators and to engage them in a lifelong exploration of science.