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The Power of Summer Camps

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dear Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

Earlier this month I was surprised when I returned from lunch to discover my office had been "redecorated” with cardboard - over 50 large boxes stacked high and deep. (click here for picture).

Hmmm. A little trip round the corner to see Sherri and Caron and ask what’s going on revealed this. Lab supplies, thousands of dollars of lab supplies. Not for us, but a donation by VWR, facilitated by the Virginia Bio Foundation, for a summer STEM camp at George Mason University called FOCUS. They were selected by camp leaders from a master list from overstock at VWR, a close partner of Virginia Bio.

F.O.C.U.S. (Females of Color and those Underrepresented in STEM) is a week-long camp which exposes middle school girls to a variety of disciplines within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  The camp specifically targets girls in middle school because research shows that’s the age where early interest in STEM often declines, but it can be reversed by thoughtful intervention. The camp is fun, hands-on and intellectually stimulating to sustain and elevate the girls’ interests in STEM. 

There’s individual learning and collaborative projects. On day five, the participants present one of the topics from the week in a poster session with invited faculty, students, and family.   There’s a "Leadership and Entrepreneurship” component to F.O.C.U.S. which gives the students an opportunity to meet successful women who currently work for leading organizations and/or own their own businesses. 

Thanks to donations, this program grew from 19 girls and 4 counselors in 2014 to 100 girls and 22 counselors this summer. The Virginia Bio Foundation, thanks to contributions from member companies and individuals, was able to provide scholarships to 5 girls who otherwise would not have been able to enjoy this experience this summer.

Camps are part of the fabric of enrichment programs and regular school curriculum and activity that are vital in encouraging young students to follow a path in STEM. Thanks to companies like VWR, programs like this are more accessible. If you would like to make donations to help these programs and others like them, please donate to the Virginia Bio Foundation.

The Virginia Bio Foundation works in STEM in many other ways. Have you heard of Biotech in a Box? Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Science Institute makes available complete kits for bringing eight different and exciting biotechnology experiments to Virginia high school and community college classrooms. These kits contain all the equipment needed for the experiments, and the Institute pays round-trip shipping between Virginia Tech and the school. Thousands of classrooms in every district in the state over the years have enjoyed the use of these kits. In the last two years, many supplies in the kits have been provided by targeted donations from VWR.

Our thanks to VWR for its generous support of programs making STEM enrichment programs more accessible to young people. And for being a terrific business partner for our members. VWR is a cornerstone of our BioBusiness Solutions national group discount program, which enables every Virginia Bio member to receive significant savings on lab supplies, equipment, shipping, furniture and more.

Also our thanks to the dedicated volunteer leadership of the Foundation: Jim Powers, CEO of Hemoshear; Denise Toney, Director, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Virginia; Mark Herzog, VP Corporate Affairs, kaleo; and Eric Rhoades, Director, Office of Science and Health Education, Division of Instruction, Virginia Department of Education.


Best Regards,




Jeff Gallagher

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