Life Sciences Sector Steps up to Close the Digital Divide for Students in Need

South San Francisco – November 10, 2020

California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), the trade association representing California’s life sciences industry, is proud to join with South San Francisco (SSF) life sciences companies and leaders in a campaign to bridge the digital divide for students in the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD).

Together with sister organization, the California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI), the Genentech Foundation, SSF biotechnology companies and individual donors, the campaign resulted in the purchase of nearly 7,000 devices for SSFUSD students and teachers for the current school year.

“Communities come together in uncertain times to look out for one another,” said South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore.  “We are extremely grateful to Genentech, CLSA and CLSI, and all of the life science companies that have come together to support our students through this campaign to bridge the digital divide.”

With the strain of a global pandemic and the impact on education, the new school year was bound to look very different. Instead of raising hands in classrooms and having traditional physical study materials, students faced the prospect of logging on from laptops at home and diving into distance learning — if they have the right resources, which many do not.

Even with the 2020-2021 school year well under way, hundreds of thousands of students across the state of California still do not have the right access to digital devices and connectivity. And this largely impacts our most vulnerable students.

The Genentech Foundation supported the campaign through an initial dollar-for-dollar matching challenge, plus an additional subsequent donation for a total contribution of $500,000.

Through the generous participation of Sutro Biopharma, CytomX, ARE, Nkarta Therapeutics, Principia Biopharma, Johnson and Johnson Innovation Labs (JLABS), and individual donors, the campaign raised an additional $148,500, bringing the final total to $648,500, ensuring that all students could start the year with their own devices.

“COVID-19 will challenge student learning for years to come. Providing individual devices was the critical first step in ensuring our local students have essential tools for success,” said Kristin Campbell Reed, executive director of the Genentech Foundation. “We are proud to partner with CLSA, CLSI and this dedicated group of funders to address these pressing needs and ensure a more equitable education for kids in our community.”

“Many families in South San Francisco are struggling to survive financially due to COVID-19, making necessities like a computer for school seem out of reach. I am forever thankful for CLSA, CLSI, and many life sciences companies for helping to meet this need and bridge the digital divide, without which students cannot effectively learn,” added South San Francisco Mayor Richard Garbarino.

CLSA’s President and CEO Mike Guerra remarked that “Our involvement with this critical effort is one of the most impactful things our organization has done this year. As the world adjusted to a pandemic induced virtual reality, helping kids and teachers in need was an effort our entire team could rally around and contribute to. We are incredibly grateful to Genentech and our member companies that contributed financially, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to empower science and learning while closing the digital divide.”

Addressing the digital divide in California is a pressing priority to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the Digital Divide Task Force. Progress is being made, but there is much more opportunity for involvement and the life sciences are proud to have joined in this effort.

“The digital inequities that this pandemic has brought to light for students who are economically challenged and students living in rural communities have to be fixed,” Thurmond said.  “Our students and families deserve a greater investment to ensure they have a level playing field to succeed not only during this pandemic but moving forward.”

About California Life Sciences Association (CLSA)

California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) is the state’s largest and most influential life sciences advocacy and business leadership organization. With offices in Sacramento, San Diego, South San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC, CLSA works closely with industry, government, academia and others to shape public policy, improve access to innovative technologies and grow California’s life sciences economy. CLSA serves biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics companies, research universities and institutes, investors and service providers throughout the Golden State.  Visit CLSA at, and follow us on Twitter @CALifeSciences, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contact:

California Life Sciences Association (CLSA)

Oliver Rocroi | Vice President, Communications and External Affairs | 916-588-0965