With $400k Grant from Manton Foundation, BioBus Launches in New England

The science education nonprofit, started in New York City in 2008, will bring hands-on inquiry-based science learning to thousands of students across New England

For immediate release, October 12, 2021

Somerville, Massachusetts Elementary students at West Somerville Neighborhood and Winter Hill Community Innovation public schools are in for a treat. Mollie Thurman, BioBus Chief Scientist, will be on site at both schools every week this fall with research science tools and Harvard PhD student volunteers. But this isn’t a one-time chance for students to learn through hands-on science – or exclusively for these two schools. The Manton Foundation, a family foundation with grantmaking interests primarily in New England, recently awarded a two-year grant of $398,750 to BioBus, Inc. The grant, along with other philanthropic and academic support, is funding BioBus to launch permanently in Boston and the greater New England area, the organization’s first major expansion outside of New York City. Through this expansion, BioBus will bring science programming that is responsive to community needs to thousands of students throughout New England. With BioBus, students will connect with academic scientists and the growing biotech industry, and start their own paths to become the next generation of scientists, innovators, and problem solvers. 

Students using research microscopes aboard a BioBus Mobile Lab in Somerville in 2018, including an electron microscope (right)

Since 2008, BioBus has helped more than 300,000 students become budding scientists. Over 80% of these students are from minority and low-income backgrounds. BioBus plans to bring expertise in science engagement and pedagogy to Boston students immediately, and within five years the team hopes to deploy BioBus New England, a new mobile laboratory to deliver programs across broader New England.

Already, through annual mobile laboratory visits, BioBus has reached over 1,800 students in the region and has attended events and conferences in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine. These visits have led to strong partnerships with universities such as Harvard University Molecular & Cellular Biology and the Institute for Chemical Imaging of Living Systems at Northeastern University as well as the Somerville Public Schools. With this expansion, BioBus will develop partnerships with schools around New England. 

A BioBus Mobile Lab open to the public in Cambridge

Interested in getting involved and signing up for programs? If you or a school or organization you know wants to partner, work with, or donate to BioBus New England, please visit www.biobus.org/newengland, or contact Chief Community Scientist Mollie Thurman at mollie@biobus.org.

About BioBus

BioBus’s mission is to help K-12 and college students discover, explore, and pursue science. The organization focuses on students excluded from the scientific community due to factors such as race, gender, economic status, and physical access. Through this work, BioBus envisions a world where everyone can reach their full scientific potential. 

BioBus was founded in 2008 as a group of volunteer scientists and a decommissioned San Francisco transit bus on a mission to bring hands-on science learning to students in New York City who could most benefit from it. Since those beginnings the organization has grown rapidly. Still relying on a steady influx of volunteer scientists, as well as partnerships with communities, schools, academic institutions, businesses, and individual supporters, BioBus has expanded its services to a full science engagement pathway from kindergarten through college.

Students in line to board the original BioBus mobile laboratory

Students use a BioBus Science Station to view samples under a microscope, guided by a BioBus Community Scientist