Furthering its efforts to help individual scientists, to advance the scientific enterprise broadly, and to promote the role of science in society, the nonprofit AAAS has joined "Giving Tuesday" — set for 2 December — a global philanthropy campaign intended to "celebrate generosity."
"The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become an important opportunity to communicate the importance of philanthropy," explained Juli Staiano, AAAS Development Director. "People aren't always aware that AAAS is a nonprofit organization. We wanted to join the Giving Tuesday campaign to highlight some of the ways that we are fulfilling our mission to advance science and serve society. We also want to encourage those who understand that science and technology are the keys to solving the world's biggest challenges to support this work."
Charitable gifts to AAAS can have a positive impact in three major ways, Staiano said. First, philanthropic support helps the association serve individual scientists and engineers through an array of career and professional development activities. Second, AAAS leverages gifts to advance the scientific enterprise broadly, by "speaking up" for science. Third, support for AAAS helps to ensure that advances in science and technology are used for the best benefit of society.
"On this day, we want to highlight the work that AAAS is doing to make a difference in the world," she said, offering the following examples of effective AAAS programs across these three categories:
Helping Individual Scientists
The 2014-15 class of AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows | AAAS
Competitive, career-shaping fellowships, real-world communication training, and a wealth of news and resources on Science Careers are only a few of the ways that AAAS helps individual scientists and engineers. The 42-year-old AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships program, for example, places outstanding scientists and engineers in executive, legislative, and Congressional branch assignments for one or two years, thereby helping to ensure that robust scientific information is the basis for policy decisions. The program now includes nearly 3,000 alumni working worldwide in the policy, academic, industry, and nonprofit realms. In addition, the association's Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowships program, which places scientists and engineers in newsrooms nationwide, has served more than 600 participants since 1974. The 10-year-old Minority Science Writers Internship provides outstanding undergraduate students a chance to write for Science, the association's flagship journal. AAAS communications training workshops have so far served 2,100 participants at 88 events across the country. Improving science-career opportunities for underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities-and diversifying science and technology fields-are key goals for AAAS Education and Human Resources.
Advancing the Scientific Enterprise
Widely recognized as a leading "voice for science" across disciplines, AAAS continuously advocates for the importance of science, technology, and science education. The association also broadly disseminates authoritative scientific information to inform policy decisions as well as the public. Each week, the Science family of journals publishes research across the biological, physical, and social sciences, plus penetrating news and analysis. Research appearing in the journals has helped to deepen our understanding of health crises such as HIV/AIDS, polio, and malaria, while also expanding our knowledge of the physical world and human origins. In 2015, AAAS will launch its first-ever open-access journal, Science Advances, providing broad and immediate access to high-quality, peer-reviewed research. But the Association's efforts on behalf of science extend beyond its journals. The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program provides objective assessments of federal science-funding trends. AAAS leaders provide expert, independent analysis of the potential impacts of legislative decisions ensuring that policymakers have access to the best possible scientific information on issues ranging from climate change and neuroscience, to the U.S. science and technology workforce. Through Congressional testimony, Capitol Hill briefings, op-ed articles, and letters, AAAS serves as an advocate on a wide range of science-focused issues, engaging scientists at all career stages to do the same.
Support for Science in Society
Over 3,300 children and adults from across Chicagoland came to Family Science Days at the 2014 AAAS Annual meeting. | AAAS/Carla Schaffer
AAAS works to advance the role of science in society through Project 2061, its K-12 science-education reform initiative, which is now helping educators implement the new Next Generation Science Standards; science diplomacy activities that bring researchers together to address pressing global problems; and much more. The association's STEM Volunteers network, now expanding nationally, has already promoted science literacy among tens of thousands of students in the Washington, D.C., area. By convening science societies across disciplines as members of our Science and Human Rights Coalition and analyzing high-resolution satellite images, AAAS also leverages science in service of human rights, and it promotes the responsible use of science through programs focused on professional ethics. The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion seeks to ease societal tensions around issues such as the teaching of evolution in public classrooms, by promoting productive conversations between scientists and religious leaders. Many other AAAS activities involve promoting research competitiveness and innovation across the country, and in developing economies around the world.
Gifts to the AAAS Flexible Action Fund provide the association with its only source of flexible, unrestricted funding, Staiano said. "The organization is funded primarily through membership dues, grants, and revenues from our journals, but almost all of those sources are restricted. The Flexible Action Fund allows us to be innovative and respond rapidly to critical challenges as they arise."
Philanthropic contributions to AAAS can also be designated to support specific activities or programs, she added.