The Merck Company Foundation contributed more than $11.5 million over the life of this program, which ended in 2011.
The partnership between Merck and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Merck/AAAS) pioneered grant programs focused on interdisciplinary collaboration in biology and chemistry at primarily undergraduate institutions. The USRP grants were awarded to more than 200 colleges and universities and supported over 2,000 undergraduates, providing them with the opportunity to work with and learn from faculty in the laboratory and engage in basic research.
In 2011, 60 Merck Scholars were supported by the grant. Approximately 10 percent of these Merck Scholars identified their summer research experience as a transformative event, causing them to redirect their course of study or to consider graduate school. A majority of the scholars reported that the research experience confirmed their interest in the sciences and increased their confidence in the laboratory. Eighty percent of Merck Scholars reported that the research experience exceeded their expectations, with the remaining 20 percent reporting that the program met their expectations.
New grant funding at USRP colleges and universities resulted from the work supported by the Merck/AAAS USRP. For 2011, new grants of $2.1 million were generated $1.88 million in grants were pending review. Additionally, two USRP schools developed a collaboration that resulted in a $600,000 grant application to the National Science Foundation.
In 2011, The Merck Company Foundation awarded a three-year (2011–2013), $900,000 grant to the University of Colorado Foundation to support a transformative professional development program for teachers—Xsci Extraordinary Educator Experiences—through experiential learning.
The Foundation's grant will support two cohorts of urban, K–12 educators—one group from Colorado and the other from Michigan—to partake in the Xsci Africa Science Learning Journey. On their journey, the teachers will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, experience the wilds of the Serengeti, and explore some of the health and development challenges in Tanzania. The teachers will each make their own personal documentary videos of the experience as both a rich data source and a powerful tool for teaching science to their students.
The first cohort of teachers will take the XSci Africa Science Learning Journey in the summer of 2013. For more information, click here.