San Diego biotech company Illumina donates $1 million to local schools and frontline workers

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego biotechology company Illumina announced Tuesday it is donating $1 million to the region’s front-line workers affected by COVID-19 and local K-12 students.

The donation is composed of $300,000 for front-line workers’ “critical needs” such as personal protective equipment, and $700,000 to support distance learning, technology and STEAM education for San Diego-area students.

“This donation we’re announcing today is going to change lives right here in San Diego,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said during an afternoon news conference.

Illumina CEO Sam Samad said: “From individuals to communities, from companies to countries, we’re finding ways to support each other during this challenging time in order to address this pandemic together. In fact, the amount of innovation and service to others is one of the brightest silver linings of this time.”

The mayor said the funds would help students in their ongoing transition to distance learning while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who lack regular access to computers and/or the internet.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said the school district has provided more than 800,000 meals and distributed more than 50,000 Chromebooks in response to the pandemic.

Illumina is one of the biggest and highest valued biotech companies in San Diego, and a leader in DNA sequencing.

Illumina CEO, France deSouza spoke with KUSI News via Skype about the donation.

The full press release with more information about the donation is below:

San Diego based biotech company partners with school district and S.D. Foundation to support students, other essential needs during pandemic:

Continuing to take steps to deliver relief to San Diegans affected by COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer was joined today by local leaders to announce a $1 million donation for underrepresented students and workers on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Illumina Corporate Foundation has directed the $1 million gift to The San Diego Foundation COVID-19 Community Fund, which was created to provide resources to low-income workers, families and vulnerable communities most affected by COVID-19. Illumina’s donation directs $700,000 to the San Diego Unified School District to help K-12 distance learning and $300,000 to support frontline healthcare workers, food security and small businesses programs. The COVID-19 Community Response Fund has raised over $10.8 million.

“While Illumina is known for creating innovations that change the world, this donation will change lives right here at home,” Mayor Faulconer said. “The help for education is particularly important right now, because supporting schools as they find ways to safely reopen along with our businesses is critical to ensuring parents can get a pay check as well as child care.”

“We are proud to call San Diego home and are dedicated to supporting impactful relief efforts in our hometown. From individuals to communities, from companies to countries – we are finding ways to support each other and address the pandemic together,” said Sam Samad, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Illumina. “One of the brightest silver linings of this time is the amount of innovation in service to others.”

As San Diego families and students transition to distance learning provided by San Diego Unified School District, access to reliable internet and technology is essential. Illumina’s donation will support K-12 distance learning programs for students without internet access, as well as science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education.

“With the support of Illumina, we have worked to guarantee all students in San Diego have what they need to continue their educational journey and pursue their dreams,” San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Illumina’s donation to the San Diego Foundation will allow us to continue to provide our families the technology and services they need to access information and to continue learning now and into the future. We are very thankful for our long-standing partnership will Illumina.”

Illumina is the biggest and highest-valued biotech company in San Diego County. Its mission is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Illumina’s focus on innovation has earned it a global reputation as a leader in DNA sequencing, technologies and clinical research. The company is working to put an end to the spread of COVID-19 by making DNA sequencing accessible around the world.

“We are very honored that one of San Diego’s most innovative and fastest growing companies has made a generous commitment to ensuring San Diego school children have the access they need to learn and grow while apart from their teachers and schools,” said Mark Stuart, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation.

The donation is being announced on #GivingTuesdayNow, a new global day of giving created as an emergency response to the unprecedented needs caused by COVID-19.

For updates on City of San Diego services, programs, links to helpful information and steps the public can take to help reduce the spread of the disease, please visit

For information regarding COVID-19 cases and directives from County of San Diego public health officials, please visit Text “COSD COVID19” to 468-311 for text alert updates.

A statewide “Stay-at-Home” order is in effect until further notice. For more information on the order, including what’s closed, what’s open and which industries are exempted by the state, please visit

Categories: Coronavirus, Good Evening San Diego, Local San Diego News