Eclose Institute

empower the Citizen Lens on Science Through Education

Philadelphia, PA   |


Mission: "To make medically relevant scientific discoveries using an educational platform that embraces equality and empowers participants to contribute ideas, life experience and experimental data to improve disease treatment." Our vision is a transformation of the current biomedical workforce to include the life experiences of scientists from every racial, ethnic, and economic background. Our participants are primarily students who have been marginalized from research, preventing intentional efforts to address health disparities that impact underserved communities. Through professional research training, we provide students with the confidence, technical skills, research literacy, and network to ensure not only their success in STEM, but employability in biomedical careers.

Ruling year info


Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer

Alana M. O'Reilly

Executive Director and Chief Learning Officer

Dara M. Ruiz-Whalen

Main address

PO Box 5077 7232 Rising Sun Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19111 USA

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NTEE code info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Biological & Life Sciences (U50)

Cancer Research (H30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

eCLOSE immerses students in disease research, providing students in participating Biology, Chemistry, or Environmental Science courses the opportunity to experience life as a research scientist while making critically important contributions to ongoing professional disease research projects. Problems we address: 1) Diversity in scientific research Fewer than 1% of scientific research faculty are from under-represented minority backgrounds, a statistic directly linked with healthcare disparities that have remained unchanged for decades. 2) Access to research experiences Students in inner city schools lack access to research training, and most have never heard of research as a potential career. 3) Financial challenges Many students are unable to participate in pricey training programs due to transportation challenges or need to work during program hours. 4) Workforce Development Marginalized students have no access to professional training to ensure STEM career success.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

eCLOSE [email protected]

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, eCLOSE has adapted its highly successful summer camp programming to a hybrid format, with students receiving Labs-in-a-Box for conducting the experimental program in the safety of their own homes via real-time, online instruction from eCLOSE Scientist-Science Teacher teams. Completion of all three program levels will make participants eligible for consideration as paid eCLOSE Scientific Technicians, with fully equipped research stations provided through Labs-in-a-Box. Our goal is to transform the ability of essential laboratory research workers to include a Safe-at-Home format, which will have particular impact on inner city participants.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Bronze Medal, Presence Learning and Teaching 2019

Reimagine Education

Educational Entrepreneurship, Winner 2020

Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award

36 for 75 Award 2020


American Public University Award 2019

Milken Penn-GSE Education Business Plan Competition

Audience Choice Award 2019

Milken Penn-GSE Education Business Plan Competition

Life Sciences Innovative Practices that result in workforce diversity 2022

Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award

Health Equity Innovation Award 2021

Johnson & Johnson

Community Award 2020

Anna T. Jeanes Foundation

Community Award 2021

Anna T. Jeanes Foundation

Community Support Award 2021

Giant Martin Supermarket

Community Support Award 2021

Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies

Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education 2022

Genetics Society of America

Community Support Award 2022

Giant Martin Supermarket

Community Award 2022

Anna T. Jeanes Foundation

Affiliations & memberships

Life Science Cares Philadelphia Partner 2021

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Catapult Accelerator Winner 2022

Life Science Cares Partner 2022

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People of African descent, People of Latin American descent, Economically disadvantaged people, Children and youth, People of Asian descent

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goals are

1) Educational:
To improve biomedical research literacy among middle and high school students, thus promoting health education for all while inspiring and supporting many to continue in research.

eCLOSE programs encourage students to bring their own cultural dietary practices to investigate how diet impacts diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and now COVID-19. This sets a foundation for exploration that puts the learning in the hands of the students, promoting curiosity, commitment, diligence, and collaboration that enhance STEM education and ignite interest in pursuing additional math and science courses.

2) Workforce development:
Our 4 iterative levels of training provide exceptional opportunities for participants to gain research independence, even before entering college. Currently, fewer than 6% of Philadelphia public school students are awarded college degrees in science majors, with fewer than 1% from the African-American community. eCLOSE is turning those numbers upside down, with 75% of participants in advanced levels continuing in research in college, and 96% completing undergraduate STEM degrees. We are well underway towards building a fully-trained young, diverse workforce to transform biomedicine.

3) Disease prevention and treatment
All eCLOSE programs focus on real research questions, with the goal of developing diets tailored to improve treatment and prevent disease. Students screen individual nutrients and foods to identify the specific disease pathways impacted by dietary changes. In advanced programs, candidate nutrients are combined with existing disease treatments to determine how diet might alter treatment. The work of eCLOSE participants is often published in peer-reviewed scientific publications.

eCLOSE addresses these challenges by providing professional research training for middle and high school students and teachers. eCLOSE Institute has three current programs:

1) eCLOSE Classroom Research
Under the guidance of eCLOSE-trained teachers, students in Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science classes conduct research programs using a curriculum that aligns with local and national standards. More than 1000 students contribute research ideas and data to urgent ongoing projects each year.

2) eCLOSE Summer Camp
eCLOSE Summer Camp provides an advanced training level, infusing mathematics with research in a seamless way that emphasizes the critical importance of math in biomedical applications. Students gain advanced technical skills using professional laboratory equipment, while advancing projects initiated in the eCLOSE Classroom Research program to understand how individual nutrients or junk food affect disease pathways.

3) Teacher Professional Development
eCLOSE trains teachers to conduct research programs focused on diseases most important to their students. Teachers gain professional technical skills and the support of the scientific community to conduct original research projects in classrooms that align with curricula requirements as well as local and national standards.

Key tenets of eCLOSE programs:
1) Cultural relevance
The richness of cultural dietary practices provides both an entry point of understanding for students and teachers and a breadth of potential compounds for use in disease prevention and treatment. Everyone eats, and diet is the key element to improving health and preventing disease. We celebrate and embrace cultural differences as a pathway to identifying new approaches for disease treatment, including everyone in biomedical research, and addressing egregious health disparities that arise due to lack of diversity in research and clinical care.

2) Professional training
Many programs offer students the opportunity to repeat experiments done by professional scientists to "get the right answer". The only outcomes are the student will be right or wrong. eCLOSE programming transforms students into researchers, asking the questions of highest interest to the student and providing opportunities to investigate these ideas through experimentation. Students utilize professional tools and approaches, providing them with a true experience of life as a scientist and integrating them into the growing eCLOSE scientific community.

3) Community
Research clearly demonstrates that mentoring, peer support, and awareness of the expectations for STEM careers is critical to success. eCLOSE provides dozens of opportunities each year for networking of current and former participants, teachers, and scientists, to build a strong, supportive community to ensure success.

eCLOSE is led by a Science Teacher-Scientist team who have worked together for 8 years to develop the current program. This pairing is retained throughout all eCLOSE programs, providing exceptional educational and scientific research mentors and guides for student participants. Our complementary expertise results in a powerful program that reaches all participants at the highest level in both science education and biomedical research.

eCLOSE evolved from an academic program, starting with 15 students in 2013, and now including nearly 1200 students/year in eCLOSE research. The logarithmic growth since 2018 demonstrates the interest and engagement of teachers and students in the program, establishing a strong participant base as eCLOSE transitions into an independent non-profit.

More than 75% of participants in the highest training levels pursue paid research positions in college, continuing their research education and making publishable contributions to disease and basic research. With the current growth trajectory, we anticipate many hundreds of eCLOSE participants will obtain gainful employment in research labs in college, providing them with a local, safe community in the lab to support their success in STEM majors.

eCLOSE has 24 teacher members, 16 of whom have returned year after year to participate in eCLOSE programming. Our incredible teacher network makes us uniquely poised to impact thousands of students and support those who continue in research and STEM.

Our Advisory Board is comprised of experts in business, education research, biomedicine, data collection and analysis, education, workforce development, and public health. This powerful group of professionals provide key guidance for programming and business planning to ensure our growth and ability to support our participants.

Our Team is comprised of the eCLOSE program founders, 5 Master Science Teachers, 3 Senior Scientist Instructors, and 5 Junior Scientist Instructors, all of whom are exceptionally talented professionals as well as close friends. The power of collaboration and friendship is modeled by this exceptional team, to emphasize that working together is transformative, both personally and for driving research forward.

Since the inception of the academic program in 2013, eCLOSE has trained over 2000 middle and high school students in biomedical research, primarily focused on cancer and diabetes.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our mission is to train members of the community in biomedical research, to empower them to contribute to the health challenges within their families and communities, and to enhance the diversity and quality of STEM education. Our participants range from 5th grade through retirement, with the majority in high school and early college.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Based on feedback from participants, we recognized the need for an interim program between our entry level Classroom Program and the more advanced Summer Camps and Undergraduate Bridge programming. We initiated an after school enrichment program that provides sufficient basic skills to prepare participants for more advanced level programming, introduced vocabulary, math, and technical skills to enhance preparation, and expanded program capacity to enable increased participation at low cost. In addition, we adapted programming to enable participants to work from home, ensuring COVID-19 safety, providing ownership of research materials and equipment, and enhancing our efforts to enable families to be engaged in the research effort.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently


Eclose Institute

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Eclose Institute

Board of directors
as of 11/16/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Alana O'Reily

Fox Chase Cancer Center

Term: 2019 -

Board co-chair

Dara Ruiz-Whalen

Immersion Science Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center

Term: 2019 -

Sibyl Bryant

Township of Upper Merion

Rachel Wells


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/8/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/08/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.