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49ers Announce Expansion of Dr. Harry Edwards 'Follow Your Bliss' Award to Three Local Educators

The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and its award-winning 49ers EDU program today announced the expansion of the Dr. Harry Edwards “Follow Your Bliss” Award for full-time, K-12 educators across the San Francisco Bay Area who lead the future generation with purpose, passion, dedication and love. The second installment of the award has been expanded from one K-8 educator to three K-12 educators, with each receiving a $5,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and resources for the 2019-2020 academic year, mentorship of the recipients and his or her fellow teachers led by Dr. Edwards, and formal recognition at a Levi’s® Stadium event with family and colleagues.

This year’s awardees will come from three grade range categories – K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 — and nominations are open now through March 8, 2019. Also new since last year, and in addition to the expansion of recipients and grant money distributed, teachers do not have to have gone through 49ers EDU programming to qualify.

Local educators who wish to apply can do so here: https://49ers.formstack.com/forms/follow_your_bliss_2019

“Though the award has grown from last year in terms of reach and scope, the fundamental goal remains the same – to further support deserving Bay Area teachers in their efforts to inspire and help students follow their bliss,” said Dr. Edwards. “This award will continue to recognize educators who have exhibited that optimal mix of care, empathy and respect for their students and their students' families and communities.”

Over the last half century, Dr. Edwards has been a nationally renowned sociologist, civil rights activist, educator, author, and 49ers team consultant. A graduate of San Jose State University, Edwards served as a Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley – his tenure spanning 1970 – 2000.

The award’s namesake stems from the first step in Dr. Edwards’ Blueprint for Academic Achievement and Success: “Follow Your Bliss - Explore and consider paths that might lead not just to achieving a career interest but to realizing your calling – the educational option and emphasis that for you lies at the confluence of talent, passion, productive potential, and opportunity.”

“Last year’s inaugural Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award was a resounding success and we’re thrilled to expand this unique opportunity to three outstanding K-12 Bay Area teachers,” said 49ers EDU director Jesse Lovejoy. “The growth of this award – which has already proven itself to make a difference to educators in the classroom – wouldn’t be possible without the unequivocal support from 49ers co-chairs Dr. John York and Denise DeBartolo York.”

The fifth-grade students of last year’s winning bilingual teacher, Veronica Miranda-Pinkney of Walter L. Bachrodt Elementary, received brand new textbooks and novels which supported her social justice unit.

“Being selected as the Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award recipient will have a lifelong effect on my students, because they have seen the impact of working hard to find something you love to do,” said Miranda-Pinkney. “Last year, my students witnessed the recognition for teaching about things that matter, and that will make a difference not just at this elementary school but in the community when they’ll use their voices to make a difference.” 

Basic criteria for the 2019 Dr. Harry Edwards “Follow Your Bliss” nomination:

·      The teacher is a full-time Bay Area educator for grades K – 12;

·      is deeply committed to teaching students and has a positive and lasting impact on youth;

·      has exceptional teaching skills as evidenced by effective instructional practices and learning results; and

·      engaging and inspirational presence that motivates and impacts learners.

For more information on the Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award, visit: https://www.49ers.com/community/about/bliss.

About 49ers EDU

The San Francisco 49ers and the 49ers Foundation leads professional sports in the support of STEM learning concepts for youth through 49ers EDU. 49ers EDU began its field trip program in 2014, in conjunction with the opening of Levi’s Stadium, to provide learning platforms for K-8 students through content-rich lessons using the STEAM principles of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. To date, the program has reached more than 210,000 Bay Area students and educators – 60,000 annually – with 50% of students coming from Title I Designated schools. The 49ers Foundation has also invested in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute’s Chevron STEMZONE at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, Calif., where a six-year curriculum that begins in seventh grade and continues through high school works to prepare students with high academic potential for careers in STEM. The STEM Leadership Institute, launched in 2014 in partnership between the 49ers Foundation, Chevron, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and the Santa Clara Unified School District, currently hosts four cohorts of scholars totaling 300 students enrolled in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grade program, which expanded to Santa Clara High School in fall 2016.

About the 49ers Foundation

The 49ers Foundation harnesses football to educate and empower Bay Area youth through collective and innovative community-focused strategies. From award-winning STEAM education and nationally recognized youth football programs, to impactful community partnerships with leading non-profits, the 49ers Foundation is tirelessly dedicated to inspiring the confidence and collaboration youth need to tackle what is possible. Last year alone, the 49ers Foundation invested more than $4 million back into the Bay Area community and in its 27 years in existence has donated more than $40 million.

San Francisco 49ers Media Contact:

Emily Lucas, P. 408.986.4891, Emily.Lucas@49ers.com

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