MPFI Receives Grant to Expand Education Outreach

May 25, 2022

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) announces a new grant from the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund to support education outreach initiatives. The $368,000 grant is the largest gift MPFI has received from the foundation and will ensure continued support of MPFI’s Brain Bee competition as well as the institute’s TEACHS workshops (Training Educators About Classroom and Hands-on Science).

The funding will also enable MPFI to expand its education outreach program with a specific focus on engaging with Title I schools – defined as schools where more than 40% of the student population come from low-income families.

“Teachers are the backbone of society. Supporting them is one of the most important things, we as funders can do,” said Stephanie Pew, Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund trustee.

MPFI’s Brain Bee has attracted more than 400 students from Palm Beach and Martin Counties since it began in 2013, giving students the opportunity to showcase their understanding of neuroscience concepts in a fun and exciting competition. TEACHs is a new program that will invite selected teachers to MPFI to train alongside scientists on lab techniques. Participants will be given lab equipment to take to their classroom, extending the program’s impact on students for years to come. Priority for TEACHS will go to educators representing low-income schools.

MPFI plans to expand outreach activities to include more age groups, by engaging with classes from K-12. The institute plans to develop grade-appropriate science experiences and classroom kits that can be brought to schools and shared with students and teachers.

“In the last few years of doing education outreach in our community, we noticed a critical demand for talented and enthusiastic science professionals that can inspire the next generation. We often hear from teachers that many of their students would benefit from simply meeting scientists and engaging in instructive conversations. A tremendous educational impact can be made by broadening a student’s awareness that a STEM-related career is possible for anyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background,” said MPFI’s Dr. Ilaria Drago, Head of Education Outreach.

In addition to education programs funded by the Pew Fund, MPFI also hosts a Science Career Day for high school students, and community-wide programs such as Science Meets Music and Brain Exploration Day.

CEO and Scientific Director David Fitzpatrick is excited about the expansion of MPFI’s community footprint. “As researchers, we build on the insights of others, each of us adding our own element of discovery. It is critical to inspire the next generation of scientists who will then take our understanding of how the world works, and build on it,” he said.  “This curiosity-driven model of scientific exploration is what moves the world forward.”

About the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), a not-for-profit research organization, is part of the world-renowned Max Planck Society, Germany’s most successful research organization with over 86 institutes worldwide. Since its founding, 29 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists. As its first U.S. institution, MPFI provides exceptional neuroscientists from around the world with the resources and technology to answer fundamental questions about brain development and function. MPFI researchers employ a curiosity-driven approach to science in order to develop new technologies that make groundbreaking scientific discoveries possible. For more information, visit

About the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund

The primary philanthropic objective of the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund is to positively impact children’s lives by providing access to high-quality instruction and educational enhancements. The Pew Fund was created in 1998 as a supporting organization to the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. To date, the fund has awarded more than $30,000,000 in grants to improve public education for economically disadvantaged children, impacting tens of thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and nearly 100 administrators.  To learn more, visit