Frequently Ask Questions

6th Grade & Transfer Application Processes

Do I need to be from Santa Clara Unified School District in order to apply?

Yes. In order to apply for the program, students must live within the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) district boundaries at the time of the application deadline. The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute is a district program, and we are unfortunately unable to support students who live outside of SCUSD boundaries.

If I am part of the Santa Clara Unified School District but currently attend a private school, can I still apply?

Yes. Students are welcome to apply, even if they are not currently attending a school in the Santa Clara Unified School District. They must, however, live within the district and be affiliated with a home school site.

Can I visit the program or shadow a student? Are there events where I can talk to teachers, parents, and students in the program?

Unfortunately, at this time, we do not host student visits or offer a shadow program, since it can be disruptive to class and valuable work time.

However, we do hold information sessions before applications are due in December. At these sessions, current students are available to answer questions from applying students and to describe their personal experiences with the program.

When should students apply?

We accept applications during a four week window in the Autumn. And students should apply during their 6th grade year.

This year the application will be available and accepted between Wednesday, November 14th and Wednesday, December 12th, 2018.

How do students apply?

We accept applications during a four-week window in the Autumn. During that window, a link to the online application can be found on our admissions page.

This year the application will be open from Wednesday, November 14th through Wednesday, December 12th, 2018.

While the online application is strongly preferred, physical copies of the application can be found in the offices of students’ home schools starting Wednesday, November 14th. All applications, digital and physical, must be submitted by Wednesday, December 12th at 11:59pm in order to be considered.

How many students are accepted each year?

The application process occurs during the 6th-grade year, during which the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute is able to accept sixty students to join the program beginning their 7th-grade year.  These students, should they complete all requirements, will continue in the program (no need to reapply each year) through their final year of high school.

What is the timeline for this year’s application process?

For the 2019/20 application process:

10/10/19: Application opens
11/13/19 & 11/14/19 5-6pm: Information Sessions at Cabrillo Middle School Lab
12/5/19: Application closes 
1/17/20:
 Semi-finalists invited to interview
1/23 - 1/24 & 1/27-1/29: Semi-finalist interviews
2/7/20: Accepted students notified
2/10/20: Mandatory Commitment Meeting
2/28/20: Accepted students commit to program

I cannot attend this year's info session for applying 6th graders. What can I do?

If you were unable to attend the 2019-20 information session on November 14th, we invite you to please read through the presentation slides from the information session. They contain detailed information about the SLI program, it's 6-year-long structure, classes, and resources. You can access a PDF of the presentation slides here

Do I need to contact my math and science teachers for recommendations?

No, applying students do not need to contact their math and science teachers for recommendations.

In the application, we ask that you provide your current math and science teachers’ names and email addresses. After you have submitted the application, we will personally reach out to teachers, providing them with electronic recommendation forms to complete and submit to us directly.

Students are welcome to let their math and science teachers know that we’ll be reaching out for recommendations, but they do not need to collect any recommendations themselves.

What documents are accepted for the student transcript portion of the application? What if the school office is closed for the holidays?

An official transcript is required as part of the application, and can usually be obtained directly from your school counselor or front office.

Please leave enough time prior to the submission of your application to request a copy of this document from your school site.

If I am not accepted during the application process, can I apply again the following year?

Since 6th-grade applicants are accepted into the program from the 7th through 12th grade, there may not always be an opportunity for students in grades higher than 6th grade to apply.

We are only able to accept transfer applications if a current student is unable to return to the program the following year. When this occurs, applications for any vacant positions will be available and accepted in late Winter of each school year. Transfer applicants that are accepted would then begin the program the following year.

If you are interested in applying as a transfer student, please check the SLI admissions page in mid-February for transfer application opportunities.

How many transfer applicants are accepted each year?

Since 6th-grade applicants are accepted into the program from the 7th through 12th grade, there may not always be an opportunity for students in grades higher than 6th grade to apply.

We are only able to accept transfer applications if a current student is unable to return to the program the following year. When this occurs, applications for any vacant positions will be available and accepted in late Winter of each school year. Thus, we cannot predict the number of transfer application spots that will be available from year to year.

If you are interested in applying as a transfer student, please check the SLI admissions page in mid-February for transfer application opportunities.

What is the timeline for the transfer application process?

Please note that the exact dates for the transfer application process change every year; however, the application is typically due in late Winter.

The 2019/2020 Transfer Application schedule is as follows:

10/10/19: Application opens
2/27/20: Application closes
3/11/20 – 3/12/20: Semi-finalists invited to interview
3/16/20 – 3/19/20: Semi-finalist interviews
3/25/20 – 3/26/20: Accepted students notified
4/6/20: Accepted students commit to program

What are applying students evaluated on?

Applicants are evaluated on their written applications, their transcripts, and their teacher recommendations (which we procure on behalf of the students).

Should they advance to the semi-final round, applicants are also evaluated on their interviews.

What if my question isn't answered here?

If your question isn’t answered here, please contact the program at SLIAdmissions@SVEFoundation.org.

Registration & Enrollment

Is there any cost to attend the program?

No. This program is generously offered free of cost to families. The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute is offered as a partnership between the Santa Clara Unified School District, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and the 49ers Foundation and is fully funded; no tuition is required from students.

We are also partnered with other organizations that support various efforts and offerings of the program so that all qualified students are able to participate in the program regardless of their family’s financial situation.


What is the student commitment?

Accepted students are asked for a six-year commitment, from the 7th through the 12th grades. During this time, students are expected to attend a three-week summer session each year, starting with the summer leading into the 7th grade.

In addition, due to the rigorous and innovative nature of a program that focuses on STEM content, non-cognitive skills, design thinking, and extracurricular competitions and challenges, students are asked to spend an extensive number of hours in the program beyond the regular school day. Most of this time is spent on additional instruction and work time; twice monthly on Saturday mornings and every Wednesday before school (at the high school level) or Wednesday after school (at the middle school).

Occasionally, student competition/challenge events will fall outside of these scheduled dates, or there will be optional reinforcement opportunities that are shared by the program staff to participating families.

How much parent participation is expected?

Parent participation is a key part of how we support the students throughout the school year, and we highly encourage all families to contribute in any ways that they can. However, we understand that parents have varying levels of commitment to work and other activities outside of the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute. With this in mind, we offer a variety of ways in which parents can support the program, ranging from small one-time opportunities (contributing materials, chaperoning trips, speaking at an event) to longer-term commitments (mentoring student teams).

Student Schedule & Curriculum

What type of academic support is offered to students?

Beyond working directly with program teachers, small group tutoring is also available after school, and on a case-by-case basis, individual tutoring can also be arranged as needed.

All tutoring services are offered free of charge to families in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute.

What competitions do students participate in?

Students regularly participate in challenges and competitions that include (but are not limited to) FIRST Lego League (middle school robotics), FIRST Tech Challenge (high school robotics), Tech Museum Tech Challenge, Exploravision, Maker Faire, Synopsys Science Fair, AMC, and Math Olympiad.

These competitions and challenges encourage students to work collaboratively in groups and to apply the knowledge they are gaining in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute to real-world style situations and tasks.