The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and its award-winning STEAM Education Program announced on Tuesday the creation of the inaugural Dr. Harry Edwards "Follow Your Bliss" Award for full-time K-8 educators across the San Francisco Bay Area who lead the future generation with purpose, passion, dedication and love. The winner of the award will receive a $5,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and resources for the 2017-2018 academic year, mentorship of the recipient and his or her fellow teachers led by Dr. Edwards, and formal recognition at a Levi's® Stadium event with family and colleagues.
"The 49ers decades-long endeavors in education are for the purpose of helping children unlock their potential inside and outside of the classroom," said Denise DeBartolo York, co-chairman of the 49ers. "There are so many great educators out there with the same end-goal in mind, and the Dr. Harry Edwards 'Follow Your Bliss' Award will provide a deserving teacher with the added assistance to make that dream a reality."
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: 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.
"This award will recognize educators who have exhibited that optimal mix of care, empathy, and respect for their students and their students' families and communities," said Dr. Edwards. "The fundamental goal of the award is to further support deserving teachers in their efforts to inspire and help students follow their bliss."
"The Dr. Harry Edwards 'Follow Your Bliss' Award is another step in expanding our franchise's impact in education," said 49ers President Al Guido. "Dr. Edwards has played an integral role in academia and the 49ers, so honoring his contributions to both areas was a natural path. Dr. Edwards' dedication to education aligns with the 49ers mission of enhancing the lives of Bay Area children."
Basic criteria for the "Follow Your Bliss" nomination:
· The teacher is a full-time educator between grades K – 8;
· Has previously attended the 49ers STEAM Education Program;
· Is deeply committed to teaching students and has a positive and lasting impact on youth;
· Has exceptional teaching as evidenced by effective instructional practices and learning results; and
· Engages and inspires presence that motives and impacts learners.
Since opening the 49ers STEAM Education Program in 2014, more than 150,000 participants – nearly 1,500 school visits – have experienced the 49ers field trip program, which teaches the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) through the lens of football. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the 49ers STEAM Education Program is pre-booked for the entire school year and will serve an additional 60,000 participants through nearly 650 school visits.
Applications are open through October with the inaugural recipient notified in December.
For more information on the Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award, visit: www.49ers.com/bliss.