Philanthropic organizations around the world grapple with the question of how best to deploy limited financial resources to achieve the most impact. For the Amgen Foundation, the answer starts with a clear mission and strategy, is followed by the selection of best-in-class organizations who consistently deliver excellent results, and closes with a thorough analysis of learnings and outcomes.
While most of our experience is in developing and fostering transformative hands-on learning opportunities and empowering and supporting science teachers, we’re keenly aware of the power of technology to achieve meaningful scale and support learners around the world, particularly low-income ones.
Since the late 2000s we had been following the impressive work of the Khan Academy, and we engaged them in at least a couple of conversations around expanding their suite of offerings into the sciences. They thanked us for the interest but said their priority was math. We waited.
When I took over as the Amgen Foundation president in late 2014, we re-engaged Khan Academy and were thrilled to learn of the fortuitous timing of our outreach. Just as we were looking to leverage the power of technology to expand access to science education around the world, Khan was eager to expand its offering to include science content. An initial one-year grant supported the creation of a series of new videos, articles and quizzes to help students taking biology courses at the Advanced Placement (AP) through introductory college levels.
With over 10 million learners visiting the platform each month, we’re excited for the potential reach of this new content and so far, the response from students has been positive. One Khan Academy learner shared that the new content “helped to focus my studies in AP biology and gain a real-world approach to the content beyond textbooks.” And we’ve heard this same sentiment echoed from many other learners across the globe who have shared their appreciation of Sal Khan and his team’s work to offer these high-quality lessons.
Today, on Digital Learning Day, we are pleased to announce the Amgen Foundation is becoming Khan Academy’s Science Partner and has made a three-year, $3 million grant to expand Khan Academy’s biology content library. The new content will build on Khan’s existing biology resources to develop a truly comprehensive offering of videos, articles and deep practice exercises, from ninth-grade biology through AP biology. By creating high-quality and free primary learning resources in AP biology, Khan Academy hopes to increase access to AP courses and practice resources for low-income students.
In addition to the financial support, we are excited that Amgen scientists will have meaningful opportunities to volunteer their time and talent to Khan Academy. The first wave of new science content will be available to students in fall 2017, with more content becoming available every year until 2020.
When two organizations with the same goal — to improve access to quality science education — come together, great things can happen. I can’t wait to see what comes of this new collaboration.