The work of San Diego Foundation would not be possible without the help of the incredible donors and fundholders who support the SDF mission to build just, equitable and resilient communities.

Among those donors and fundholders are Bill and Marisa Rastetter, who have a tremendous commitment to philanthropy. The pair have a longstanding partnership with SDF and support several different causes and nonprofits in the San Diego community. For those contributions and efforts, Bill and Marisa were recognized as exemplifying the SDF Strategic Plan pillar of ‘delivering world-class philanthropy’ at the SDF 2022 Annual Report to Community virtual event.

Growing Diversity in STEM

One cause that is near and dear to the Rastetters is growing diversity in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. Bill, a tenured and well-known scientist himself, often noticed the need for more diverse resumes – but noticed they never seemed to come through for review. That’s when he and Marisa realized something must be done systemically to make a change.

“We were in the kitchen and I said to Bill — as chairman of a lot of local biotech companies have a lot of power,” explained Marisa Rastetter in a video produced for the virtual event. “You set the culture and you are in a position to actually make change.”

Not long after came the birth of San Diego Squared (SD2) – an organization with a mission to connect underrepresented students to education and mentors in the STEM field and thus, changing the talent pipeline. As part of the virtual event, the Rastetters asked to share the mission of SD2.

Supporting Local Students

Since its start two years ago, SD2 has paired 68 students with STEM professionals for mentorship and raised more than $3.5 million to support their diversity initiative. Plus, the nonprofit has awarded nearly $400,000 in scholarship funds to diverse college students pursuing STEM degrees.

H. Puentes, SD2 co-founder, believes human connection in the field is crucial to students’ success.

“Students still need support with building their confidence building a nuanced understanding of the industry,” Puentes explained. “These students have someone they can talk to they have someone that can help illuminate that path into STEM for them.”

San Diego Foundation is grateful for donors like the Rastetters and for organizations like SD2 that are making an impact on our region.

To read more about SDF’s $150.8 million dollar impact this past year, read our 2022 Annual Report.