Supporting BOOST this holiday season

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

This holiday season, the Department of Medicine is asking for your help to support the BOOST (Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology) program at Duke University. Now through Dec. 31, the Department of Medicine is championing BOOST to help raise critical funds to help continue the work in supporting Durham’s youth.

BOOST is a multidimensional program serving Durham Public Schools students in 5th through 8th grades. The program is designed to excite young people about science and inspire them to pursue careers in medicine and related fields. BOOST serves underrepresented minorities including African American, Latinx, and Indigenous students; girls; and kids from economically challenged backgrounds.  BOOST is situated within Duke University School of Medicine's Multicultural Resource Center and aims to create a pipeline which attracts, engages, supports, and retains underrepresented minority (URM) students in the sciences throughout their pre-collegiate education.

BOOST Scholar looking through microscope.The funds raised through the Department of Medicine campaign will support the current class of 80 scholars and their coaches, many whom are also from underrepresented minority groups. Our nation is enduring the perfect storm of a world-wide pandemic and coming to grips with the deep-rooted systemic racism in many of our oldest institutions. Duke has emerged as one of the 21st century's leaders in confronting both the scientific challenges and the cultural ones. The more truth we discover, the more we recognize there is a long way to go. What could be more relevant in these times than a program like BOOST, that inspires underrepresented Durham students to leap into the world of STEM?

“For many of us, we were influenced to pursue a career in science by our family members who served as role models. For others, it was the combination of interest, aptitude and the special teacher who encouraged us to follow our passion. However, many students in our Durham community do not have this type of exposure to careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, especially those from underrepresented minorities. BOOST is committed to just that and as a further commitment to our department’s mission to address diversity, inclusion, and equity, we’re excited to engage with BOOST this holiday season through our annual giving campaign,” said Kathleen Cooney, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine.

Department of Medicine faculty, trainees, and other staff are encouraged to make a donation in support of the campaign. Your funds can make a critical impact for scholars - our future scientists, researchers, engineers, and physicians. 

Make a donation

Important note for donors: Please ensure to make a donation using only the link above, which has been set up to specifically track donations from the Department of Medicine giving campaign. Donors should ignore the prompts to sign into OneLink or create an account. For questions, donors may contact

A donation in any amount supports Durham Public Schools students’ exploration of academic and professional pathways in STEM and medicine. Contributions are combined to deliver programming and materials to BOOST Scholars. Thank you in advance for your support! 

Gift Value

Science Saturday materials for one BOOST squad.
Science Saturdays are monthly events wherein Scholars conduct a STEM activity with others in their cohort before turning to focus on their Science Symposium projects.


STEM kit for one BOOST squad.
A “squad" includes one Science Coach and their 3-4 Scholars.
Kits are used to aid Scholars in completing the research projects they present at the annual end-of-year BOOST Science Symposium. 


Laptop or hotspot for Scholar in need

Stipend for Junior Coach (paid BOOST alum who serves as a peer mentor to younger, current Scholars)


Stipend for BOOST Science Coach


The ENTIRE cost of a season of BOOST for one Scholar

"BOOST exposes young boys and girls to opportunities in STEM research that they never knew existed. This program has a direct impact on the life trajectory of these young men and women and builds not only their knowledge in STEM, but also their confidence that they can do it. The impact of this experience pays dividends academically, and the bonds between mentor and mentee can last a lifetime. One of my proudest moments was learning that my first mentee was pursuing his PhD in Biomedical engineering. My role as a BOOST mentor was one of the most important roles I have ever played. For some of my mentees, I was just a teacher or mentor. For others, I was a big brother or father figure. I valued all of these roles because of what BOOST means to these young men and women." Julius Wilder, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology)

Read more about Dr. Wilder's experience as a former BOOST mentor.

Read Scholar stories and see what the BOOST experience is all about!




Dr. Brenda Armstrong, the founder of the BOOST and only the second Black woman to become a board-certified pediatric cardiologist in the United States, worked tirelessly to ensure that young people have access to educational and career opportunities that empower them to take care of their communities. We are proud to continue her legacy and welcome you to join us in being part of that vision.

2020 has been a particularly challenging, yet innovative year for BOOST and the communities we serve. In March, we pivoted from hands-on, in-person programming to an all-virtual model. We activated our community to connect Scholars with experts, activists, and Coaches through virtual field trips and follow-along experiments over Zoom. So far this year, Scholars have virtually shadowed scientists in labs to explore gene therapy for glycogen storage diseases, stem cell treatment for epilepsy, and the impact of environmental toxins on the brain’s immune response. They also visited with celebrity birder and activist Jason Ward, whose story inspired us to keep pursuing our passions, even when we enter spaces where there aren’t many people who look like us.

At every turn, we’ve gotten creative and resourceful to make sure that the 80 middle school students and 25 high-schoolers we serve get the access, care, and community they’ve come to rely on from their BOOST family. And, as a family, we’ve come together to support our students with resources—outside of regular STEM programming—during these critical times. Your support is a crucial piece of what makes this all possible.

If you have any questions about how your gift will be used or want to know more about how you can support BOOST at this critical moment, please email

Find BOOST at @boostatduke on all social media platforms. Our Instagram stories include “IG Takeovers”, where BOOST Scholars filmed and photographed Science Saturdays and field trips. This is the best way to get an “insider look” at a BOOST event. 

Interested in other ways to get involved with BOOST?

  1. Become a Science Coach
  2. Host a Virtual Field Trip: Contact to coordinate an immersive virtual visit to your lab or to lead Scholars in a hands-on, follow-along DIY experiment over Zoom.