Honoring Black History: ‘The Just Project’

Black History Month

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Austin-East grad went on to become a leader in the world of science.

Knowing the pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community, Fred Lowery is behind the multi-million-dollar project providing free COVID-19 tests to students and staff at all of our country’s historically Black colleges and universities.

Some 300,000 students have had the opportunity to benefit from the free testing since August, along with faculty and staff at places like Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, Howard University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Hampton University.

It’s all part of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific and its initiative called, “The Just Project” headed up by Senior Vice President Fred Lowery, who graduated from Austin-East in Knoxville.

“It’s about a 25 million dollar donation from the company,” he said, “and you know, the reason we did it, quite frankly, was that we felt like the Black community was being impacted at a higher rate of COVID and we have been involved in the fight against COVID from the beginning, and we had a lot of capability that we could bring to bear and wanted to bring that capability to bear.”

The goal: To help students get back to campus and make COVID testing easily accessible.

“What we actually did was set up nine clear certified test centers at HBCU campuses. We’re calling those hub test centers and then for every other HBCU, we send them the collection kits,” Lowery explained. “They provide them to the students, they take the samples, send them into those test centers or those hub centers, and get results in 24 to 48 hours.”

If the name Fred Lowery is familiar to you, we’ve gotten to know him over the last few years for his generous donations to help us provide laptops to Project GRAD Knoxville scholars for their post-secondary education.

It aligns with his belief that supporting education is a corporate social responsibility and a personal one for him as well.

“I think Project Grad creates a great product and students that are completing the programs are going off and doing exciting things so I can’t help as I know you are, be excited about supporting those students,” he said, adding, “I think that we all can do something and you know, I believe that we all have something to give. It may not seem like a lot but when you put all our efforts together, we really can make a huge difference.”

For more information about  Thermo Fisher Scientific and The Just Project, visit: www.thermofisher.com

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