February 14, 2018 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation announced $632,934 in grants for 10 programs that strengthen San Diego’s innovation economy by creating more opportunities for students, particularly from underserved communities, pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities.

The San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Program grantmaking supports the findings from Our Greater San Diego Vision, a report that found that a majority of residents want to increase opportunities for those who work and learn in the San Diego region.

According to the 2016 CONNECT Innovation Report, the regional innovation sector accounts for more than 25 percent of San Diego’s economic activity (GDP). The Science and Technology grants increase regional efforts to create and expand a pipeline connecting young adults underrepresented in STEM to college and career opportunities.

The grant recipients include: Elementary Institute of Science, Ocean Discovery Institute, Access Inc., The Maritime Alliance Foundation, San Diego Mesa College, UC San Diego Foundation, California State University San Marcos Foundation, Miramar College Foundation, Wintriss Technical Schools (The League of Amazing Programmers), and the Research for Autism and Development Lab at UC San Diego.

“Science is a catalyst of prosperity for the San Diego region and those who live in it,” shared Kathlyn Mead, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “By opening more pathways for local youth to become scientists and engineers, we are supporting the scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will strengthen San Diego’s innovation economy for decades to come.”

The San Diego Foundation Science & Technology Program promotes STEM education across the region, particularly among young adults underrepresented in the fields. By increasing opportunities for STEM higher education, connecting young adults with paid internships in San Diego and establishing networks of current and prospective scientists, the Science & Technology Program is creating a holistic approach that will support the regional innovation economy and San Diego residents.

Since 1999, the Science & Technology Program has granted more than $8 million to support scientists and engineers in San Diego. The program is funded in part by the Blasker-Rose-Miah and Reuben H. Fleet Endowment Funds at The San Diego Foundation. For more information, or to contribute to the program, visit SDFoundation.org/ScienceTech.

The grants were awarded to:

San Diego Mesa College
STEM Conexiones Community Scholars Program – $75,000
The STEM Conexiones Community Scholars Program increases the number of underrepresented and low‐income students completing STEM-major level courses. The program will link real-world career experiences in STEM to what students learn in their STEM-major classes at Mesa College. Additionally, this program will address student skill gaps and prepare them for STEM career placement or transfer to four-year academic institutions. STEM Conexiones offers support services, including STEM faculty mentors, personalized academic support and collaboration with industry partners.

Miramar College Foundation
SCE Project – $75,000
The SCE Project at the Southern California Biotechnology Center at Miramar College supports the life sciences industry by providing work readiness and lab‐based training resulting in employable individuals with in‐demand skills. The grant program will provide stipends to San Diego community college students in STEM programs who qualify as low-income, first in their family to attend college, or are underrepresented in STEM. The project will lay career-building groundwork by conducting student resume workshops, career awareness and classroom training. The SCE project will also provide internships at Biocom and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. 

Research for Autism and Development Lab at UC San Diego
RADLab Program – $75,000
The Research for Autism and Development Laboratory (RADLab) examines foundational aspects of development with the goal of forming a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) that will lead to the design of novel and more effective interventions. Individuals with ASD can contribute uniquely and substantially in technical fields, including computer science. This lab environment offers the kind of low-barrier introduction to the workplace that provides a pathway for individuals who may require support in becoming career-ready. The program will provide paid internship opportunities to 25 high school graduates with ASD and allow them to learn the skills needed for the more rigorous demands of a university degree program or career.

California State University San Marcos Foundation
STEM Summer Scholars Program – $74,813
The STEM Summer Scholars Program is a 10-week paid undergraduate experience that integrates research and education, particularly for students from underrepresented groups or those facing challenges to academic achievement. Over 60 percent of last year’s participants identified as a first-generation college student, veteran, economically disadvantaged and/or nontraditional students. Participants develop research skills by working alongside faculty on projects addressing fundamental questions in science.

The Maritime Alliance Foundation
BlueSTEM Pathway – $70,000
BlueSTEM Pathway promotes a “blue pipeline” in science-based water and oceanic subjects for students from underrepresented gender and ethnic groups. The program will connect 25 high school students with internships at established blue tech companies in San Diego, while also providing mentorship and networking experiences with industry leaders. Through BlueSTEM Pathway, students will be provided opportunities that lead to enrollment in postsecondary academic institutions or full‐time employment. This pilot program will create a model that can be replicated in other school districts.

Access Inc.
GET Tech Program – $65,828
The GET Tech (Growth Engaging Training in Technology) Program provides educational and career development services to underrepresented young adults in San Diego. Participants in GET Tech will be youth ages 17-24 who have previously dropped out of high school and are economically and educationally disadvantaged. The program will help participants develop skills, enroll in community college and pursue career pathways upon graduation. The final phase of GET Tech includes the application of the program through paid internships at local STEM-focused companies.

UC San Diego Foundation
PATHways to STEM Through Enhanced Access and Mentorship (PATHS) – $62,000
PATHS is an undergraduate pilot program providing access to multi-tiered mentorship, academic preparation, campus support, internship and service placement for students in STEM at UC San Diego. The program empowers students from underserved San Diego communities by addressing the actual and perceived financial, academic and cultural barriers that inhibit the success of underserved students. The Program includes an 11-week residential summer launch period that provides mentorship, academic preparation and training, and internships placement.

Wintriss Technical Schools (The League of Amazing Programmers)
Tech Workforce Program – $61,191
The Tech Workforce Program will provide workforce experience classes career events to middle and high school students. Students will participate in interview preparation and readiness training, such as certified Oracle programmers, that will support their direct entry into the workforce or help them pursue computer science degrees. The Tech Workforce Program helps to break poverty cycles and develop local talent for San Diego’s innovation economy.

Elementary Institute of Science
Girls Take Flight – $54,102
The Girls Take Flight program is a drone pilot training and licensing program serving female high school students from low‐income metro San Diego communities. Focusing on students in their junior year who will most likely need to work either part‐time or full‐time to attend college, the program helps participants become Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certified Drone Pilots which will allow them to pursue flexible employment in a high-growth technical field. Girls Take Flight participants will be prepared to enter the STEM sector through training, internships, completion of the Remote Pilot Certificate and job placement.

Ocean Discovery Institute
Ocean Leaders Program – $20,000
The Ocean Leaders Program provides City Heights high school students a pathway from science and conservation literacy to careers in STEM fields. Ocean Leaders pair hands-on research with mentoring and practical work experiences. Through this program, students receive case management, academic coaching, mentorship, and stipend-supported internships and fellowships. Ocean Discovery Institute and partners, including University of San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and RECON Environmental, will provide internship and mentorship opportunities to participants.

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation maximizes the impact of your charitable giving. We mobilize philanthropic resources to advance quality of life, increase social impact and champion civic engagement. For more than 40 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1 billion to grow a vibrant San Diego region. Learn more on our website, and consider a donation to the Fund for the Future Endowment which supports San Diego community needs now and forever.


Vince Heald, Beck Ellman Heald, 858-453-9600, vheald@behmedia.com
Justin Nunez, The San Diego Foundation, 619-235-2300, justin@sdfoundation.org