September 19, 2022

Abrome is pleased to announce that it has received a $29,000 USDC gift from Balvi, a direct giving fund established by Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of Ethereum. The gift will fully fund an innovative onsite daily COVID-19 surveillance testing program developed by FloodLAMP Biotechnologies, a Public Benefit Corporation. In addition to the testing program, the gift helps fund Abrome’s continued improvements in filtration, ventilation, and masking efforts for the 2022-2023 academic year.. 

Abrome is a liberatory, K-12 Self-Directed Education community serving young people ages 5-18 in Austin, Texas, USA. Abrome operates with an ethic of community care that centers those who are most impacted by our actions, and this focus allowed for a quick transition to a multilayered approach to protecting the community from COVID in 2020. Our multilayered approach to protection has resulted in zero cases of COVID at Abrome over the first three academic years of the pandemic, and prevented spread into communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID (e.g., BIPOC communities, the immunocompromised, those without access to quality healthcare, essential workers, the unvaccinated).

An important additional layer of protection is provided by the new surveillance testing program.. The program uses a molecular test based on loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), an alternative to PCR that can be visually read and deployed in a decentralized testing model. LAMP tests offer significantly improved sensitivity over antigen test strips, thus catching new infections earlier prior to infectious levels that cause disease spread. Unlike other school pool testing efforts, our approach would not pool student samples to determine if there is a likely infected young person in the facility. Instead, Abrome goes a step further and has each household of every young person and staff member pool their samples each morning, and then those pooled samples are tested on site. Because Abrome is already a COVID-safe(r) environment, the greatest risk of exposure happens at home, where household members risk bringing the disease home from their workplaces, non-COVID-safe schools (i.e., siblings), and other spaces. 

“With this generous gift, we are able to add household LAMP surveillance testing to our pandemic protocols. This will not only allow us to identify infection risks before they enter our space, it will allow us to be able to serve as proof of concept and as a case study for the benefits of a robust multilayered approach that includes surveillance testing in school settings everywhere,” said Antonio Buehler, the director of Abrome.