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 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 HuffingtonPost.com

“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 HuffingtonPost.com


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