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49ers Expand Efforts Engaging Young Girls in STEAM


The San Francisco 49ers education consulting venture, EDU Academy, announced on Wednesday an extension of its existing partnership with Play Like a Girl (PLAG), and the addition of non-profit SheIS to its collaborative work engaging young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). EDU Academy has teamed up with PLAG and SheIS to host a hackathon challenge for 50 San Francisco Bay Area girls on July 19th, 2019, at WalmartLabs in Sunnyvale, Calif., inspiring and educating girls on the importance – and intersection – of STEAM and sports. 

"As a country, we need to do more to incite interest in STEAM and sports for young girls," said Jesse Lovejoy, director of 49ers EDU and managing partners of EDU Academy. "Our upcoming collaborative work with Play Like a Girl and SheIS will deliver a creative, hands-on learning experience aimed at inspiring female youth across the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue careers in STEAM, with a special focus on what that looks like in the sports industry."

According to the National Science Foundation data, in 2016 less than 30 percent of the science and engineering workforce in the U.S are women and only around 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. To illuminate the importance of STEAM in sports and elevate female role models in both fields, the hackathon will provide an opportunity for seven teams of rising 8th and 9th grade girls to work closely with positive female role models and mentors. Moreover, the judging panel will be made up of industry professionals, technical experts and graduate students from local universities, learning about practical applications of STEAM in the sports world and beyond. 

"Play Like a Girl is committed to providing young girls with resources such as interactive STEAM education programs to help prepare them for the future," said Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder and CEO of Play Like a Girl. "Thanks to funding from our partners SheIS and Lyda Hill Philanthropies, in addition to ongoing strategic support by EDU Academy and the San Francisco 49ers, we're helping more girls find their passion and discover STEAM careers in sports."

"We are excited to see this hackathon come to life and for more young girls to be introduced to a world of possibilities at the intersection of STEAM and sports," said SheIS co-founder and CMO, Caiti Donovan. "This is truly a team effort, and would not have been possible without generous funding from our partners at Lyda Hill Philanthropies through the IF/THEN initiative, alongside our partnership with Play Like a Girl, EDU Academy, and the many generous donations from brands who are prioritizing the growth of girls inclusion in the sports and STEAM industries."

In March 2019, EDU Academy announced a partnership with PLAG – the only 501(c)3 charitable organization in the nation providing high-impact STEAM and sports programs to girls in a supportive environment – to introduce STEAM curriculum to PLAG female youth. The efforts were modeled after 49ers EDU's successful STEAM education platform, which has engaged more than 250,000 K-8 Bay Area participants in STEAM learning through football across five years. 

That same month, Lyda Hill Philanthropies launched the IF/THEN initiative with more than 20 Coalition members for the second year of its IF/THEN Initiative, which included SheIS to help drive engagement at the intersection of STEM and sports. Amongst other STEM Meets Sports projects, the funding provided to SheIS allowed them to engage Play Like a Girl and the EDU Academy in a collaborative efforts around the STEM+ Hackathon.

PLAG's curriculum launched this month in Nashville, leveraging sports as a common interest point for engaging female middle school students in STEAM subjects. The July 19th hackathon at WalmartLabs in Sunnyvale, Calif., is the first step in expanding the PLAG/EDU Academy collaboration nationwide.