Sunday, June 23, 2024

BRF awarded $30,000 grant from Regions Foundation for Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School

by BIZ Magazine

Shreveport, La. – BRF was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Regions Foundation to
support the Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School in Shreveport. The
Regions Foundation is a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank that supports community
investments, and this grant is the Foundation’s first award in North Louisiana.

BRF helped launch the four-year Academy in 2006 in partnership with Caddo Parish Public
Schools, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, LSU Shreveport, biotech companies and
Southwood High School. The goal is to promote an educated local workforce skilled in the
STEM disciplines, which is necessary for maintaining and attracting new industry in Northwest

Students enter the program as freshmen and complete a curriculum that far exceeds basic
Louisiana requirements. As part of the Biotech Academy, a select group of seniors get the
unique opportunity to work alongside researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport as
an intern in the BioStart Internship Program. Since 2009, more than 125 students have taken
part in BioStart.

Since its inception the number of students participating in the Biotech Academy has grown
from 25 the first year to over 250 in 2020. The Biotech Academy is unique in that it serves
student populations generally underrepresented in STEM education. For example, the 2019-
2020 participants were 66 percent female and 73 percent minority. A majority of the
Academy students are the first in their family to apply to and attend college. Of the 2019-
2020 senior class, more than 85 percent plan to continue their education after high school.

Many of those students train for careers in healthcare or related fields which are critical,
especially during health crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Since the Biotech
Academy’s inception in 2006, Southwood High School has moved from a D to a B ranking.

“The Biotech Academy epitomizes the three strategic priorities of the Regions Foundation;
those priorities are supporting education, advancing workforce readiness and improving
financial wellness,” said Mark Evans, Market Executive for Regions Bank. “We believe this
investment from the Regions Foundation, and the dedication of BRF to reaching underserved
students with access to new opportunities, will lead to benefits for families throughout our
community for years to come.”

“One of my top goals is to continue to build the Biotech Academy,” said Dr. Kim Pendleton,
Principal at Southwood High School. “I’m so proud of what the program has accomplished, but
I want to see the number of participating students and those who go on to college climb even

Visit to learn more about Biotech Academy and BRF’s other
education initiatives.

About BRF
BRF is an economic development organization establishing North Louisiana as a preferred
destination for high-growth initiatives. Diversifying the region’s economy is its mission. It
fulfills this mission through initiatives that support community, regional and national needs in
health and medicine, resources for entrepreneurs and the development of a science and
technology-based workforce.

About Regions Foundation
Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact the communities
served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on
priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce
readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded
primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.

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