In the US, COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate toll on people of color and Thermo Fisher was uniquely positioned to respond. We launched the Just Project, a multifaceted partnership with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that makes free COVID-19 testing accessible to students, faculty, staff and their surrounding communities. These schools, for generations, have played an essential role in closing America’s achievement gap, including training diverse talent in STEM fields.
Through a donation of $25 million in instruments, kits and supplies, we have provided the technical expertise to help to build a robust and sustainable testing infrastructure that is now owned and operated by HBCUs. Onsite labs have been established at eight hub schools which, in turn, support the free testing available to nearly 60 HBCUs nationwide – schools with a collective estimated enrollment of 150,000 students in 2020.
The Just Project was conceived as a humanitarian response to a public health crisis, but it was built with a holistic approach that has strengthened our HBCU partnerships and will create long-lasting impact for the communities they serve. While enabling students to safely return to normal campus life, our newly established labs can also support future research programs, provide training to develop more scientists of color, and enable work to address health disparities in the Black community. This has allowed us to newly align our talent pipeline strategies such that Thermo Fisher will hire at least 500 alumni from these institutions through 2023. Supporting HBCUs is part of our commitment to address inequalities through our business, community outreach and hiring practices.