Illumina increases equitable access to STEM education, reaching over 1 million learners
he Future Is Bright genomic literacy initiative expands to Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates
SAN DIEGO — Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN), a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, today announced outcomes from its annual The Future Is Bright campaign, a monthlong global genomic literacy initiative, in which Illumina employees connect with students by hosting career panels, implementing genomics curricula, and leading hands-on experiments.
The Future Is Bright activities reached 100,000 learners in April and have reached 200,000 since the initiative launched in 2021. Through The Future Is Bright and other Illumina-supported programming aimed at driving equitable access to STEM education, Illumina has reached more than 1.2 million learners in 11 countries worldwide.
Illumina’s The Future Is Bright initiative takes place in April, coinciding with DNA Day on April 25, an annual global celebration of the discovery of the DNA double-helix structure and the completion of The Human Genome Project. This April also marked the beginning of the company’s own 25th anniversary celebration.
“We are committed to improving equitable access to STEM education, as part of our mission to support our communities and to help foster the next generation of scientists, innovators, and trailblazers,” said Sharon Vidal, head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at Illumina.
Genomic literacy for all
Illumina works year-round with schools, school districts, and nonprofit partners to provide educational tools and resources for all grade levels, with a focus on reaching students from underserved communities.
This year, as part of The Future Is Bright, the company offered educators free, hands-on science kits for their students to conduct strawberry DNA extraction experiments. In April, 2300 kits were distributed globally, reaching 64,000 students. In the United States, 71% of classrooms receiving hands-on science kits were at Title 1 schools or schools in which children from low-income families make up at least 40% of enrollment.
Discovery Education is one of the organizations partnering with Illumina to distribute digital genomics learning resources. Through a custom educational content series for grades 6–12 called DNA Decoded, students experience a virtual field trip into Illumina labs, and teachers receive standards-aligned classroom activities and guides they can use to integrate genomics lessons into their curriculum. Discovery Education is a worldwide edtech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place.
“DNA is the building block of life so it’s incredibly powerful for students to learn its importance. Our unique partnership with the Illumina Corporate Foundation brings DNA to life in classrooms across the country by providing educators engaging STEM resources that connect the classroom to real world science,” said Amy Nakamoto, General Manager of Social Impact at Discovery Education.
Culture of volunteerism
In addition to providing tools and resources, 370 Illumina employees conducted career chats at their local schools, museums, and STEM organizations across nine countries. In the US, 85% of classroom chats took place at Title 1 schools. In 2022, Illumina achieved its 2030 target of 50% employee participation in its Illumina Cares volunteering programs, amounting to 49,827 volunteer hours since 2019.
Vincent Brissot, vice president of Commercial Operations at Illumina, is one such volunteer who visited a group of seventh and eighth graders in his community of Hayward, California, in April. “Talking about genomics with these students brings new meaning to my own work,” he said, “and you see their curiosity come alive through their questions. Those exchanges with young, bright kids were both energizing and humbling.”
Growing global impact
The Future Is Bright began in the US in 2021. Since then, fueled largely by employee volunteers, efforts have expanded in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and China. Twenty percent of students impacted by The Future Is Bright programming are located outside of the United States.
Illumina aims to reach 5 million STEM learners by 2030 globally.
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. In 2023 we celebrate 25 years of innovation, which has established us as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit illumina.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.