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CLSA Wire

Bio-Link Depot: Now more ways to give unneeded lab supplies & equipment a new life in local schools

A revitalized Bio-Link Depot makes it possible for Northern California companies to make contributions of equipment and supplies to schools through a central location, connecting teachers and faculty with needed items at no cost. Not only are all the donations tax-deductible, but donors save considerable costs and space by getting rid of surplus while making a valuable contribution to regional education.  There is current interest to grow this very successful program to other Bay Area locations, Southern California and Boston in the near future.

In fiscal year 2014/15 alone, the Depot served over 330 teachers, close to 200 schools, and 16,000 students, distributing $433,000 worth of free science equipment and supplies to regional education institutions that would otherwise have gone without.  This was made possible by over 530 hours provided by industry and academic volunteers to sort and organize equipment. The Depot organizes and tracks donated equipment and supplies and makes them available to K-12 schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities, through regular open house events.

As of 2016, the Depot is now incorporated as a 501c3 organization and is under new professional management. This makes it much easier for companies to make tax-deductible.  “The 501c3 status opens up a new host of donation and grant opportunities that were not available in the past” states Hank Stern, Bio-Link Depot Board President and VP of Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls of Alexo Therapeutics. “In addition, as biotech companies restructure, move or upgrade their equipment and supplies, the Depot is a greener and more sustainable alternative to the landfill, recycle bin, or auction house. “

Daniel Michael, the new Depot Manager, says “We have improved our service-delivery system and are now able to pick up donations more quickly and get them distributed to schools more effectively at our Open House Giveaways”. Interested donors can arrange with the Depot to have their items picked up regardless of size or quantity. In fact, UCSF is one of a couple recent organizations to contract with the Depot for regular equipment and supply removal.  The Depot ensures that Donors’ contributions are recognized by recipients and thanks contributing companies on its new website at: biolinkdepot.org.

The Depot has operated since 2002 when Genentech provided seed funding to Bio-Link (an NSF National Advanced Technological Education Center for Biotechnology) to set up a donation center at City College San Francisco (CCSF).  Since then, the Depot has collected lab equipment and supplies from companies and made them available to over 400 teachers and 100,000 students in Northern California.

In addition to donating items, biotech companies can have a strong impact on local science education by providing financial contributions and by encouraging their employees to volunteer at the Depot.  Last summer, Genentech sent a group of volunteers to the Depot as part of Genentech Give Back Week.  Genentech volunteers, who ranged from engineers to administrators, enthusiastically cleaned, sorted and organized Depot equipment.  Daniel Michael adds “Volunteers like these help us to continue distributing free science supplies to teachers throughout Northern California.”

To get a sense of the Depot’s impact on a single classroom, Dave Menshew, Depot Board member, and part of the Forensic Biotech Leadership Team at Modesto City Schools (the most recent recipient of the Teacher of the Year award) estimates that the Depot has provided his students with supplies, equipment and materials “totaling over $123,000 in full retail value.” He adds, “Even at a discounted rate for those items that were previously used, it is our belief that [these assets are] valued at over $75,000 in the open market.” Equipped facilities that mirror the biotech industry and allow students to master usage and technique are crucial for teachers and faculty tasked with developing the science workforce of tomorrow.

The Depot has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Genentech.  It is supported by Bio-Link, CCSF, and relies heavily on its partnership with the Bay Area Biotechnology Education Consortium (BABEC) for networking to teachers, and the California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI) and California Life Science Association (CLSA) for industry connections and logistical support

If you (or someone you know) would like to donate funds to the Depot, go to our web site at biolinkdepot.org or Click Here.  If you have supplies to donate to the Depot, please contact Daniel Michael at daniel@biolinkdepot.org. office (650) 821-0112, cell 415-335-2263.