For Immediate Release

December 9, 2020 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation today announced $750,000 in grants to 13 nonprofit programs to create more opportunities for students, particularly from underrepresented communities, pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees and careers.

The San Diego economy is at an important tipping point that will impact the future of the entire region. Most notably, the benefits of the innovation economy are not reaching all San Diegans. As the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) outlined in its report, Building San Diego’s Talent Pipeline, the evolution of the innovation economy has presented new opportunities, as well as challenges, for the workforce. Latinx and Black communities are greatly underrepresented in San Diego’s highest paying industries and occupations.

“We envision a San Diego where all young adults, regardless of their background, have the resources and opportunities to become the leading scientists and innovators of tomorrow,” shared Katie Rast, Director of Community Impact at The San Diego Foundation. “By increasing access to STEM education and internship opportunities for those most underrepresented in the field, The San Diego Foundation aims to create an equitable approach that will expand pathways to success for all San Diegans.”

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

The nonprofit programs receiving funding include:

San Diego State University Research Foundation

The $75,000 grant will support the WE BELIEVE program (Women and Black Empowered Learners Interning in Engineering Environments), which develops a pipeline for historically underrepresented students in San Diego into STEM degree pathways via a research experience. San Diego State University (SDSU) will provide Summer Research Internships for Black high school and community college students to team with a faculty member and female SDSU undergraduate, aimed at building valuable experience and professional skills that will serve them as they pursue their degrees and enter the workforce.

CREATE at the University of California San Diego

The $75,000 grant will expand the STEMULATE program (STEM Undergraduate Leadership and Teaching Empowerment), which provides low-income and underrepresented students with mentorship and internship opportunities. The program matches community college students with K-12 youth, and provides an immersive experience in direct research and STEM career readiness that helps reinforce all students’ science and engineering identities and sense of belonging in STEM fields.

PATHS at the University of California San Diego

The $75,000 grant will support the PATHS program (PATHways to STEM Through Enhanced Access and Mentorship), which provides students with financial aid, basic needs and socioemotional support that allow them to concentrate their energies on pursuing their STEM degrees. PATHS scholars receive ongoing mentorship, advocacy, and academic resources and advising that support the development of their personal identities through culturally competent programming.

Miramar College Foundation

The $75,000 grant will support the SCE program (Supply Chain Experience) at the Southern California Biotechnology Center at San Diego Miramar College. The program improves career readiness among underrepresented community college students by connecting them with advanced internship opportunities and hands-on experience in a supportive environment.

California State University San Marcos

The $74,813 grant will allow more students to participate in the STEM Summer Scholars program, which provides high-quality instruction in the sciences to a diverse student population. The program focuses on increasing success among students transferring from local community colleges and gives students hands-on experience necessary that will help them accomplish their academic goals and obtain a job in the innovation economy.

Office of Undergraduate Research, University of San Diego

The $70,000 grant will provide stipends and resources to underrepresented STEM students participating in the university’s Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) and Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) programs. The programs pair undergraduates with faculty mentors for intensive summer research internships in labs across campus and field projects throughout San Diego and beyond.

Access, Inc.

The $65,037 grant will help support youth who have experienced trauma and have overcome challenges, such as homelessness. Students are supported through case management to build incremental competencies and achieve academic and social milestones. Many of the students are drawn to science and technology coursework but need more hands-on experience to determine a career pathway. The program helps them advance their understanding of science and technology careers and the impact they can make to their preferred field.

Palomar College Foundation

The $50,000 grant will fund the Palomar College STEM Robotics Summer Institute, which offers underserved students an opportunity to see themselves as future robotics engineers, developers, and designers. The initiative offers engagement with a wide variety of hardware and software technologies and it puts them directly in the facilities of a local robotics lab.

Interfaith Community Services

The $46,400 grant will support the Transitional Youth Academy 2021 STEM Summer Internship Program that provides historically-underrepresented youth with opportunities to engage in hands-on experiences in STEM-focused paid internships. High school student participants work within local partner institutions of higher education, corporations, and organizations to gain knowledge and experience in technical and scientific fields. Through this program, youth from low-income families who are, or have been, at-risk of dropping out of high school will engage in first-hand experiences focused on STEM programs and careers that can significantly transform their lives.

Zoological Society of San Diego

The $42,600 grant will expand the reach of the San Diego Zoo Global Internships in Conservation Technology program, which helps underrepresented young adults who are pursuing degrees in computer science, data science, and/or engineering. The program offers an opportunity to apply their growing skillset to the burgeoning field of Conservation Technology through engineering internships. Student participants work directly with research staff and engage in a variety of cutting-edge work.

San Diego Natural History Museum

The $40,000 grant will allow the Natural History Museum to offer STEM internships that build professional experience and expertise in research and biological consulting. The museum’s Entomology Department recently received an award from the National Science Foundation to integrate data from the Museum’s butterfly and moth collection with the Lepidoptera of North America Network. Through stipend-supported internships, students will have the opportunity to be part of this award-winning research project.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The $35,000 grant will enable more historically-underrepresented young adults to participate in the Heithoff-Brody High School Summer Scholars program. During the program, a cohort of student scholars work on original research projects with Salk scientist-mentors and participate in other organized learning experiences as part of an eight-week, paid internship at the Salk Institute.

Elementary Institute of Science

The $26,150 grant will connect underrepresented youth to stipend-supported STEM internships that move students into advanced scientific and technical career opportunity pathways by engaging females from Title I high schools in a comprehensive Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS, also known as drones) education and certification program. Students learn to build, program, and fly drones, leading to Federal Aviation Administration commercial drone pilot certification.

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve quality of life in our region. For more than 45 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen our San Diego community. Learn more at and consider a donation to the Science & Technology Program, helping to expand the pipeline and increase equity within STEM careers and classrooms across San Diego County.