Build a Biotech Program (Part 3 of 3): Promoting your program

While applying for grants is a great way to secure funding for your biotechnology program, I also recommend promoting your program to your school community.

1. Use social media to your advantage

Athletic and arts programs typically do a great job promoting student accomplishments. I always felt that if the school district can fund extracurricular events, they can fund academic events like quality science education! I recommend using the power of social media to raise awareness of what you want to make happen. My teaching partner, Melissa Sabol, started to run twitter posts that highlighted everything our students were doing, including live images of students performing science.  This is powerful because parents love seeing their children doing science!  Parents can be very influential regarding funding.

2. Engage with school administrators

Inviting administration members to your classroom and on field trips can also be very powerful. They spend most of their time in the office or in meetings, so they like to get out and see what is happening from time to time. Invite them!  When the administration sees your work, they might be inclined to send some funding your way.

Here is a good story.  In 2015, I was running a science club through the BioBuilder Foundation, and we had an amazing project idea to pitch.  The project was to be presented in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the spring of that year. We knew that we would have to pitch the idea virtually due to a lack of funds. I decided to have the twenty students present the project at the next school board meeting, where each student represented a genetic part and stood up to explain their purpose in the genetic construct.  The public and school board were blown away!  A student, on their own, said that tickets to Boston were pretty cheap, and we sure would love to go and present!  When the meeting ended, the principal and school board members pledged to send 12 students to Boston for the day to present!  The assistant principal came along and was blown away.  He became the principal, and we always were funded for the day trip to Boston!

I’m sure that there are many additional funding sources as each school community is different. Search for every dollar you can find.  I still believe that asking appropriately and selling your program are the best ways to find money.

– Tom Martinez

About the author

Tom Martinez is a retired AP Biology and Biotechnology teacher with thirty-nine years of experience.  He created an outstanding biotechnology program from scratch for Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Illinois. Tom’s passion for teaching continues with curriculum evaluation, blogs, and workshops that help guide teachers through the implementation of biotechnology courses.

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