‘The Big Bang Theory’ just did what no TV show has ever done before

And people say TV will rot your brain: Yesterday, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory made waves—and history—when showrunner Chuck Lorre (Mom, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly) revealed that he plans on taking the award-winning program’s scientific slant from fiction to reality. Starting this week, Big Bang Theory and The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation have established The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment—valued at $4 million dollars.

The endowment will go directly to 20 low-income students entering the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at UCLA this year and then benefit five new students each academic year in perpetuity. The inaugural class will be announced this fall at the show’s set in Burbank, CA with cast and crew in attendance.

“We have all been given a gift with The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s not only based in the scientific community, but also enthusiastically supported by that same community – this is our opportunity to give back,” Lorre said in a statement. “In that spirit, our Big Bang family has made a meaningful contribution, and together, we’ll share in the support of these future scholars, scientists and leaders.”

Contributors to the scholarship include stars Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard),  Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), Kunal Nayyar (Raj), Mayim Bialik (Amy), and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette). They’re joined by executive producers Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, and Steven Molaro as well as crew members and other generous folks in the entertainment industry.

The icing on the cake? For actress Mayim Bialik and David Saltzberg, the show’s science consultant, this donation hits home. Bialik received a very real Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA and Professor Saltzberg continues to teach astronomy and physics at the L.A.-based university.

And for their part, UCLA is more than happy to bring the world’s first TV show-based scholarship fund to the school with Chancellor Gene Block saying in a statement, “We are grateful for The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment, whose contributors agree with us that economic standing should not hinder a deserving student’s shot at a degree from a university of UCLA’s caliber.”

Right on.

(Image via CBS)