We all know that science education has been slipping … along with our society’s general interest in things related to science.

This is really bad, methinks.  We need more scientific innovation, not less, to face the challenges of today – energy, hunger, poverty, disease, and all those other nasties.

The question is, how do we do this?  One way is to improve our science communication and marketing skills, so that when we encounter members of the general public (like those pesky inlaws at parties) we can actually explain what we do in an interesting way.

But a second way is to get people started early in their science careers, and to help them along.

I’ve decided to do something about this: I’m going to put 10% of all proceeds from my consulting work, grant writing book, coaching, and grant writing course towards one or more charities that promote science and/or science education.

And here’s where you can help.  I haven’t had time to research the best charities for this kind of work, so I need your ideas and thoughts.

So, can you leave me a comment below with your favorite charity to support?  Even if you’re involved in your own charity, this is your chance to pipe up (as long as it’s authentic).

Let’s get a good list going, and then in a future post I’ll narrow it down, and we can take votes on the top few.

Thanks in advance for your help!


24 thoughts

  1. Most States have charities that support Science Fairs or, more specifically, you can award a prize for
    a regional or state fair, where students are chosen to go to the international fair. The “Morgan Prize for the best project in biology” is a real possibility. Even $50 is a great award at the high school level, but they go much higher. Some involve travel awards, partial scholarships, etc. You could even support every regional fair in NC.

    Your picture looks like it is from Prague. Right? My Ph.D. is from Chapel Hill Chemistry Department.
    I know Lowery Caudill and Royce Murray well. Now both have names on bldgs – insanely great.

    1. Hey, I do like the idea of providing prizes to local Science Fairs to get students motivated!

      The picture is actually Firenze, It. Both it and Prague are beautiful places.

      I’ve met Royce but not Lowery. Both have quite the reputation. I recently had a chance to interview Oliver Smithies (Nobel Prize Winner) about science careers … more on that soon.

  2. I prefer a charity that helps the minority and underrepresented school students who need the most support from our society as they are our future Scientists.

  3. I guessed wrong on the geography. Shameful. Both towns have beautiful bridges in large supply. A little over a week ago Prof. Negishi in opur Dept received the Nobel Prize in chemistry. This resulted in huge attention from swarming members of the press and and excuse for excessive consumption of bagels. Pete

    Royce was up here a week ago and was another UNC Prof. Jim Jorgenson. Great people making a big difference. Pete

    I am to give a lecture on science careers in early November. I will send our students to look at your good stuff.

    1. I agree! But I don’t know of any charity that does this in an organized way.

      This is actually why I got this effort started… I have had a lot of challenges getting to the point where I am, and my goal is to provide both paid and free resources to help others surmount the obstacles more quickly. I wish I could do it all for free, but it takes a lot of time that I could be spending on research and teaching. In fact, I’ll be scaling back my faculty job to provide the time to build this effort …. (with a matching pay decrease).

  4. Americans for Medical Progress and the Foundation for Biomedical Research keep folks informed of medical progress and fight the forces of evil wishing to limit that progress (e.g. PETA and their ilk).

    1. Hi Paul,
      Do you know who runs this group? It sounds promising, if it is a “bottom-up” charity rather than a top-down (I.e. sponsored by drug companies).

  5. My vote is with CFRI (cystic fibrosis research inc). Disclosure: I am chair of the research advisory committee. CFRI is a small non-profit charity (4 paid staff) that supports both CF research and teaching about CF to parents with a CF child. With the economy in the tank their money is dwindling.

    1. Hi Marybeth,
      This is a great idea. A few years ago we had a proposal in with CFF that got a pretty good score, but wasn’t funded because that organization wasn’t funding much of anyone…. the economic crash had caused some big problems. So, we had to mostly discontinue that line of research due to lack of funds.

      I’ll definitely keep this one in mind!


  6. American Cancer Society provides funding for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. ACS had a career development/scientific conference for all of their postdocs that helped my career tremendously. Interactions with ACS staff have also guided career decisions.

  7. The school of science at Purdue University has an outreach program that has been in place since 1989. They maintain continous contact with every science teacher in Indiana. They have a number of programs designed to encourage interest in science careers. More info at https://www.science.purdue.edu/k-12-outreach. Money can be given to the school of science specifically to the outreach program.

  8. Thanks again for all the suggestions!

    I am still open for comments about the “ideal” science-related charity.

    In the meantime, I some funds to the American Society for Human Genetics, to support an outreach program that connects geneticists with everyday folks to let them know about the impact of genetic research on their lives. It sounded like a cool program!

  9. [Excuse this being off-topic.]


    Maybe this comes too late for you, but I wrote some thoughts on science careers on my blog a little while back. (To avoid any link-related moderation issues, I’ve put the link on my name, above.)

    On topic: I’m not familiar with American programs for science outreach so I can’t help you much. Internationally, I would be curious as if there are schemes to promote science in the so-called developing nations. (I’m aware of the WFS and the WFSJ, but you’ll probably see them more as professional bodies – ?) The paucity of a science culture in many of those countries is one of their many stumbling blocks to progress.

    Locally we have several programs that promote science, but they’re not charities, as best as I know. (I could be wrong.) They’re mainly aimed at high school level children.

    There are, of course, any number of advocacy groups for various illnesses. While I appreciate their aims, I personally mentally lump them alongside ‘disability’ organisations.

    1. I’ve been a bit sidetracked with some new projects, but this is a great idea …

      Keep the ideas coming. I will be deciding soon but it is not finalized (and I can always mix things up later if a great new suggestion comes along).

  10. The National Center for Science Education is a non-profit, incredibly efficient advocate for the proper teaching of biology (especially evolution) in schools. Their work is primarily focused on the most important, and sadly neglected part of science education–high school biology. This is the age and the topic that gives the broadest science exposure to Americans, and which has the most potential to inspire, dispirit, or delude students about science.

    They do more than any group I know to champion science education, and they are worthy of all our support.


  11. I definitely recommend the Polish organisation called Krajowy Fundusz na Rzecz Dzieci (National Fund for Children, http://www.fundusz.org). It’s a non-profit organisation associating highly motivated and talented children (up to age of 18) interested in all sorts of science and/or arts. They organise professional trainings/workshops/lectures, meetings with prominent scientists/artists and even internships in places like MIT or Caltech, for most motivated ones. Children don’t pay a penny, not even for travel. The Fund is suppurted by the Polish goverment but mostly relies on the support of privat sponsors, usually former members. Very supportive people, fantastic, very encouraging and uplifting atmosphere. I’ve been a member for more than two years, it was one of the best experiences I ever had.

  12. All of the world’s problems in science education can be resolved with an increase in salary for scientists. No need for charity foundations or encouraging kids to go into science. Everyone do something for a living; if they can’t pay for basic needs, all interests in science is secondary or last in line.

  13. The Deafness Research Foundation provides seed money up to $20k for one or two years for post-docs and new researchers to obtain the data they need to compete for an RO1. Their focus is to reduce hearing loss in the world.

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