The partnership between the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was actually initiated by TAF Academy leadership. This alternative public school practices project-based learning and authentic individual work, a learning model that encourages deep exploration of the “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. They try to provide every student with some exposure to real life experiences that utilize STEM expertise.
Given their educational philosophy, TAF Academy leadership was willing to partner with Dr Torok-Storb who proposed an innovative program that provides 90 hours of instruction during the school year, followed by 8-week, 40 hours per week summer internships. Selected students start in 10th grade and continue for 3 years. The program is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH. The goal of the program is to promote diversity in the biomedical research workforce by providing students with experiences, scientific content, and professional mentoring that will increase their likelihood of attending college and obtaining a graduate degree in science. The rationale for the three-year program design is based on the understanding that the greatest impact on student development is achieved with programs that are introduced early and then sustained.