The BRF is committed to providing training and education for our community. Investing in the science and technology education programs that cultivate a workforce with the skills, understanding and creativity to excel in a knowledge economy is an important part of BRF’s mission.
The BRF’s mission is to promote and develop a knowledge-based regional economy. A critical component of this mission is to champion science and technology education programs that cultivate a workforce with the skills, understanding, and creativity to excel in a knowledge economy. Since 1996, the BRF has been instrumental in raising over $2 million from individuals, foundations, corporations, and grants to support local education programs.
In the higher ed arena, BRF led the formation of CERT (Consortium for Education, Research and Technology) in 1996, and played major role in bringing all of the higher education institutions in north Louisiana together to collaborate on academic programs and grants, curricula, and industry partnerships.
The BRF has supported, with funds provided by grants and individuals, 12 STEM-based programs since 1997. In 2010, the BioStart Internship Program received a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health for $1.3 million over five years – the first SEPA awarded to a project in Louisiana.
The BRF launched its first K-12 STEM program in 1997 with SMART (Science and Medicine Academic Research Training). The program, which has been serving students for two decades, provides a yearlong research experience with investigators at LSU Health Shreveport for 10 to 12 academically advanced high school seniors who have a career interest in medicine, biomedical research, or biomedical engineering. Nearly 190 students have participated in the SMART program. Participating students have high success in venues such as the Junior Humanities and Science Symposium, the Siemens Science Competition, the national and international Intel Science Fair and Talent Search, and the bioGENEius national competitions. Most SMART alumni select careers in medicine or science.
In 2002-2005 BRF led the MST (Math, Science, and Technology) Community Consortium with Centenary College, the Committee of One Hundred, LSU Shreveport and other community groups to design a STEM-based K-12 program. MST began in Caddo Parish schools with four schools. In 2016, eight Caddo Parish middle and high schools are now part of the MST system.
Other BRF-supported programs include:
FIRST Robotics Program
The BRF and Capital One Bank have provided support to the FIRST robotics team at Southwood High school. Each year, the students and mentors construct robots to perform a designated task to enter in FIRST Robotics competitions locally, regionally and nationally.
EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology)
Involvement with the community is major component to the EAST program. EAST students at Southwood High School seek out and implement community projects that require the use and understanding of computer design, database management, or software creation, including a school bus route website, a digital 911 map of a golf course, and Public Service Announcements for the local community to be aired on local television stations.
Biotech Academy at Southwood High School
The Biomedical Research Foundation partnered with Southwood High School, Caddo Parish Public Schools, LSU Health Shreveport, LSU in Shreveport and participating biotech companies to create the Biotechnology Magnet Academy in 2009. The four-year Academy has grown to over 170 students enrolled. Students enter the program as freshmen and complete a rigorous curriculum that far exceeds that of a basic high school curriculum. The first year of study is dedicated to ethics, anatomy and physiology, the second year to microbiology, the third year to molecular and cellular biology, and the senior year to research techniques, including a semester internship in labs at LSU Health Shreveport.
BioStart Laboratory Research Internship Program
Launched in fall 2009 with funding from the Community Foundation – Women’s Philanthropy Network and other private donors, the BioStart Internship Program gives seniors from the Biotechnology Magnet Academy the opportunity to conduct a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor at LSU Health Shreveport. Each student spends three hours each day for one semester, or approximately 18 weeks, with their mentor. Approximately 13-16 seniors per year participate in the program. Participants learn about research methods and laboratory techniques, and present the results of their research at poster sessions, regional conferences, science competitions, and public outreach venues.
BioStart Boot Camp
The primary purpose of the BioStart Laboratory Internship and its two-week Summer Boot Camp is to address the need to increase the quality and quantity of area graduates in the medical, biotechnology and life sciences fields with the expectation that many of these students will earn advanced degrees and participate in the regional workforce as medical professionals, research scientists, teachers and technicians.
College Navigator for Biotech Academy students
This program originated in 2011 for high school students in the Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School. The College Navigator works with students beginning in their freshman year to create a roadmap of college and career goals. She assists with course selections, submitting college applications, and completing scholarship and financial aid applications. The program provides ACT test preparation classes and assistance with ACT testing expenses. College tours, ACT prep and financial guidance are a large part of this program, as well as special tutoring and advising for students whose ACT scores are 20 or below to ensure that they qualify for TOPS scholarships. Initial funding was provided by the Community Foundation of North Louisiana and private donors.