As a native of the City Heights community, Carla Camacho knows firsthand the impact science and technology exposure can have on the thousands of young people who call this neighborhood home. Once a student in Ocean Discovery Institute’s (ODI) programs herself, she is now the Manager of Business Development at the nonprofit – hoping to make a change in students’ lives in the same way ODI impacted her life.

Making an Impact

City Heights is known for being culturally diverse, but often lacks the resources for further opportunity – including for its youth. That’s where ODI comes in to make an impact – regardless of income status and educational opportunity. At this year’s San Diego Foundation (SDF) 2022 Annual Report to Community virtual event, Ocean Discovery was recognized for their inspirational hard work living out the SDF strategic plan pillar of ‘fostering equity of opportunity.’

Through 100% tuition-free programs, ODI aims to ensure every student has a chance experiment with and experience science. Whether they’re in the ODI Living Lab or on a field trip at the coast, Camacho says the highlight for her team is to watch students begin to believe in themselves.

Changing Students’ Trajectories

“We see them change what they believe about themselves what they believe about their future and who they can become – whether it’s a first-generation college student or someone who enters a career in science,” Camacho said. “That belief that starts at such a young age and really changes our students’ trajectory in their life. “It just makes me incredibly proud that students that grow up here will know that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.”

San Diego Foundation has a longstanding partnership with Ocean Discovery Institute and has awarded various grants to the nonprofit from Opening the Outdoors programs to Level Up SD camps. Most recently, ODI joined the SDF Community Scholars Initiative that help local high school students prepare for, pay for and persist through college. Each action is a step forward to inspiring future leaders in science.

Learn more about San Diego Foundation’s $150.8 million impact last year by reading our 2022 ‘Give for Good’ Annual Report.