Huffington Post Article Features 49ers STEM Leadership Institutes' Work with Students

Posted November 13th, 2017

Last week, the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute was featured in a Huffington Post article about the 49ers Foundation (a key partner of SLI). Alicia Jessop (Sport Law Professor at Pepperdine University and Sports Business Expert) visited the the FabLab at Santa Clara high School to learn about the program and speak to SLI students before writing the piece. Below is an excerpt from the full article, which can be found at

“The Silicon Valley is known as the world epicenter of the tech industry. Yet, when the San Francisco 49ers relocated to Santa Clara to begin playing at Levi’s Stadium, the team was surprised to learn that a mere three-percent of high school students in the Santa Clara school system passed the AP Calculus examination.

Since its founding in 1991, the 49ers Foundation has been committed to providing opportunities to children in underserved communities to help keep them, “safe, on track and in school.” Recognizing the likely cause of low AP Calculus test score results as a gap in STEM education opportunities, the 49ers shifted their educational strategy to address this issue upon moving to Santa Clara.

To do this, the 49ers launched two science and math-based educational initiatives targeted toward Santa Clara area children: The 49ers STEAM Education Program and the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute. Through these endeavors, the team reaches over 60,000 children per year with both high-level and intensive STEM and STEAM education opportunities. […]

Students in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute are taught nine core values: Communication, creativity, collaborative spirit, curiosity, risk taking, leadership, determination, passion and initiative.

“In selecting the core values, we were trying to pick out the things that make a leader. It isn’t intelligence or passing the AP Calculus test that makes one a leader. There are a great deal of things which make one a leader, one of which is learning to take risks. If you have no opportunity to learn how to take risks, possibly fail and then pick yourself up and work, you won’t learn that,” Dr. York remarked.

Presenting risk taking opportunities in a safe, controlled environment is just one way the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute is closing the tech learning opportunity disparity between students in the Silicon Valley. Many associated with the program laud the networking opportunities it presents as the institute’s main benefit.

Medha Kini, a 10th grade participant in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, found a new career path through an institute networking opportunity.

“For me, this program really benefits my future, because of the opportunities we get. A few years ago, we had a speaker from Pixar come and talk about her job. That was really interesting to me, because I like to draw and use math in my drawings. She talked about how part of her job as a technical artist is to program her animations to move. This is now something I want to pursue,” Kini said.

Stories like Kini’s make the 49ers believe their heavy investment in STEAM education is paying off.”

Read the full article at

49ers Win The ESPN Humanitarian Award

Posted July 18th, 2017

This last week, the 49ers Team’s humanitarian projects, including the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, were recognized by ESPN.

“The 49ers were recognized as ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year during an awards ceremony Tuesday evening in Los Angeles.

Co-chair Dr. John York accepted the honor on behalf of the organization. Safety Eric Reid, who is a regular participant in the organization’s community programs and events, was among the group that represented the 49ers for the announcement.

“Every Sunday, the 49ers take the field to win. The other 349 days of the year, we want to be the best football team and the best community citizens,” York said. “Through the 49ers Foundation’s efforts to keep kids ‘Safe, On Track, and In School,’ we inspire Bay Area children to succeed in life using sports as a pathway.” […] Among the organization’s off-the-field accomplishments:

  • The 49ers’ STEM Leadership Institute is a six-year curriculum that begins in 7th grade, continues through high school, and seeks to prepare students with high academic potential in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). During the 2016-2017 school year, over 40,000 hours of education have been provided, including integrated and open lab hours, tutoring, and enrichment events. Of the 60 students in the 2020 class, 50% have 4.0 GPAs and the average GPA is 3.81.”

For the full story, check out the NBC Bay Area Sports page.

To watch highlights of the awards and a video featuring SLI students, tune in to ESPN on July 25th at 4pm PT.

Video Featuring Adam Savage's Visit to 49ers SLI Released

Posted June 6th, 2017

The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute was featured in an article on, talking about Adam Savage’s recent video series:

Renowned digital designer and maker Adam Savage’s website,, debuts videos shot at two innovative spaces in the California Bay Area; a high school fab lab and a children’s hospital makerspace. The Fab Foundation and Chevron sponsored the recent visits. […]

At the Santa Clara High School Fab Lab, he saw tangible, usable high-tech solutions the students are creating from equipment in the lab, such as vinyl cutters, milling machines and saws.

They were especially excited to show off prototypes for a football tee prototype for a design challenge provided by the San Francisco 49ers. Former NFL player and Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Jesse Sapolu participated. “What a fun way to make cutting-edge technology relevant for young people,” he said.

Olympic gold medalist, former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player and Bay Area native, Brandi Chastain, also attended the tour and demonstration. “Having this incredible, hands-on experience in high school will help fuel their futures,” she said.

The young innovators attend the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, created in partnership with the San Francisco 49ers, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the Santa Clara Unified School District. It is a six-year program that prepares students with high academic potential for college and opportunities in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

The above video featuring 49ers SLI was posted this week on Adam Savage’s site,, with the following description:

Alongside Jesse Sapolu, retired center/guard for the San Francisco 49ers, and Brandi Chastain, Olympic and World Cup soccer champion, Adam works with students at the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute who are designing and building a tee that will hold a football in windy conditions. After four-time Superbowl champion Jesse lends his expertise and Brandi tests the tees with her killer kick, see which one was voted most likely to succeed! (This series and tour is made possible by The Fab Foundation and Chevron.)

49ers STEM Leadership Institute is proudly supported by

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