UCSF’s Science Education Partnership Leads Award-Winning STEM Initiative

The San Francisco delegation accepts a US2020 City Competition award in Washington D.C. From left to right: Aaron Chrisco of the Salesforce Foundation; Lakisha Witzel, academic coordinator at UCSF SEP; Katherine Nielsen, co-director of UCSF SEP; Michael Timmeny, vice president of Government and Community Relations at Cisco; and Eric Schwarz, executive chairman of US2020. Photo courtesy of Corporation for National Community Services

By Jeannine Cuevas on June 01, 2014

San Francisco is one of seven winners of a national competition to encourage mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), with an initiative to be led by UC San Francisco’s Science & Health Education Partnership.

The US2020 City Competition challenged cities to develop innovative models for dramatically increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring and teaching students through hands-on projects.  US2020 is specifically focused on increasing STEM opportunities and excitement for girls, underrepresented minorities and children from low-income families.  Public/private coalitions from 52 cities across the nation applied, engaging nearly 600 companies and civic organizations.

The winners, announced last week at the White House Science Fair, will share $1 million in financial, consulting and staff support over the next year to launch their plans.

"I am excited by this opportunity to increase STEM mentors who are working with our students and getting them ready for the jobs of the 21st Century" said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

In San Francisco, eight of the 11 occupations with the largest projected growth before 2020 are in STEM fields. Yet most students in San Francisco public schools have never met a STEM professional.

San Francisco’s US2020 award-winning program, to be called “SF US2020,” will be led by UCSF’s Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) in collaboration with the San Francisco Mayor's Office, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Salesforce and Techbridge.   

Chelsea Stewart, 17, a student at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco and an intern in the UCSF Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) program, discusses her poster presentation with SEP academic coordinator Kishore Hari in 2012.

“We are incredibly proud that our own SEP program is the leader of this important collaboration. With over 25 years of successful experience in supporting STEM education in San Francisco, I’m certain our SEP team will set the bar high for the other cities who share the US2020 award,” said Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, dean of the Graduate Division and vice chancellor for Student Academic Affairs at UCSF.

In San Francisco, Salesforce.com Foundation is the founding sponsor of US2020. National US2020 founding partners are Cisco, Cognizant, Raytheon, SanDisk and Tata Consultancy Services, recently joined by Chevron, with additional support coming from Discovery Communications, Fidelity Investments, HP, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

Initiated in 1987 by UCSF professor Bruce Alberts, SEP is recognized nationally and internationally as a model organization that supports quality science education for K-12 students through partnerships between scientists and teachers. Each year, UCSF SEP supports 300 volunteers working with San Francisco Unified School District teachers and students, contributing more than 10,000 hours. UCSF SEP also leads the Bay Area Science Festival, an annual 10-day celebration of STEM reaching 70,000 people.

The other winning cities are Allentown, Penn; Chicago.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Philadelphia; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; amd Wichita, Kan.

Watch the video below to find out more about US2020: