STEM Leadership Institute Launched at Santa Clara High School with Pep Rally

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On Wednesday, February 11th, the San Francisco 49ers, along with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVeF) and Chevron, announced that Santa Clara High School will be the home for the second 49ers STEM Leadership Institute Chevron STEMZONE. After the successful opening of the Chevron STEMZONE at Cabrillo Middle School in 2014, the students of the Class of 2020 will now be able to continue their STEM-based studies in high school through the SLI's program at Santa Clara High School.

The STEM Leadership Institute provides academically talented yet under-resourced students the tools needed to enhance their talents in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. During the pep rally announcement at Santa Clara High School, current students from the STEM Leadership Institute's class of 2020 at Cabrillo Middle School were present to share their personal experiences from the program thus far. 

"We did many fun things over the summer," shared one student from SLI's class of 2020. "We prototyped and cut name tags out of wood using the laser cutter. In the lab, we used a motor, battery, wires, and a variety of other items to create our own vehicles. We also visited the Exploratorium in San Francisco. We were given a choice to either enter in the First Lego League or the Tech Challenge. I chose to join the First Lego League where there are three different parts to the competition: the project, the FLL core values, and the robot game. In the project, we have to find a real-world solution to a real-world problem. In the FLL core values, we are judged depending on our team's teamwork and how well we work together. In the robot game, we are required to design, program, and build our own Lego Mindstorms robot and have them perform a variety of themed challenges. This year's theme is education. The STEM Leadership Institute has been a great opportunity for my classmates and me." 

49ers co-chairman John York has made several visits to the STEMZONE at Cabrillo Middle School to see the kids in action and continues to be impressed by what he sees. 

"With these seventh graders, you see dedication and passion but, most importantly, what you see is kids having fun," said York. "They are smiling and they are talking. They're interacting with their peers and the kids are so diverse. At the Institute, we have both boys and girls working together and sharing a common goal. It's pretty special to watch that happen. And that joy in what they're doing, that's what will turn into passion and dedication to pursue STEM careers."

It is evident that the shared passion is a driving force for the current SLI group. Although the students have access to many state-of-the-art tools through the program -- such as tablets, laser cutters, and 3D printers -- one student expressed that his favorite part of the STEM program is being challenged and surrounded by other students while at school that share similar interests as himself.

"I think it's a part of education that I never had; it is education of today and in the future," York said. "These kids are talking about additive manufacturing and 3D printing. I didn't even know what that was three years ago, and these kids are sitting there doing it."

The pep rally began with a collaborative performance from the Santa Clara High School Marching Band, Niner Noise, the Gold Rush and Santa Clara High School cheerleaders. Representing the 49ers at the event was current nose tackle Ian Williams, alumni players Guy McIntyre and Dennis Brown, co-chairman John York, 49ers Foundation Executive Director Joanne Pasternack and supporters of the 49ers Foundation. Superintendent Stan Rose and SCHS Principal Gregory Shelby were also in attendance, along with members of the SCUSD school board and Cabrillo Middle School Principal Stan Garber and joined by SVeF representatives and Chevron Manager of Global Social Investment Steve Woodhead, along with other Chevron executives.

"This was the culmination of several years of effort and is such a wonderful thing for Santa Clara High School and an improvement for the entire district," said Shelby. "This partnership with the 49ers, Chevron and SVeF is going to change instruction here at Santa Clara High School. It will obviously be transformative for the students that are part of the Leadership Institute, the 60 students per year, but it is also going to affect every student we have through access to the Chevron STEMZONE and the different tools the 49ers have brought to us."

The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute is a long-term commitment, funded by the 49ers Foundation, Chevron and other collaborative partners, which will provide academically talented, yet under-resourced students the tools needed to grow and enhance their talents in STEM fields. The Institute recruits rising seventh grade students each year from SCUSD who show academic promise. The Institute will then prepare them to engage in scientific research, impactful community-changing projects, or become entrepreneurs—putting them on the path to pursue a STEM major at a top-tier university.

The San Francisco 49ers Foundation is the non-profit community funding extension of the San Francisco 49ers. Now in its 23rd year, the 49ers Foundation supports development programs for underserved youth that keep them "Safe, On Track, and In School." Since 1992, the Foundation has donated $30.6 million to support non-profits, contributing $4.6 million in 2014, including a $1 million grant to launch the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute at Cabrillo Middle School.

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