SF STEM Talent Pathway

The San Francisco Bay Area economy has continued to grow to be home to some of the world’s most innovative technology companies, creating a proliferation of professional opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. However, at top tech companies in the Silicon Valley, data released by giants like Google, Facebook and others has shown how overwhelmingly tilted the population of tech workers is to White and Asian males. The data highlights the low number of African-American, Latinos and females in the industry.

Recognizing this abundance of local job opportunities and lack of diversity in the field, Mayor Ed Lee and Superintendent Richard Carranza convened the SF Mayor’s Education Council, strategic city department executives including the Office of Economic Workforce Development and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families and corporate partners and association including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and sf.citi();, to work together in new ways to ensure San Francisco youth are ready for career opportunities in tech and a variety of STEM focused careers in The City. SFUSD graduates almost 4,000 students every year and city departments sponsor and/or fund a variety of programs that prepare up to a 1,000 transitional age/opportunity youth to enter the workforce. Students in school and in these programs all need coordinated supports and investments from the business community that best leverages public funds around a set of clear and mutually supportive outcomes for youth, business and our broader community.  With several dozen similarly focused programs for youth in and out of school, operating independently and loosely connected to each other, the opportunity is ripe for a collective impact approach to set bold goals and better align our work across various cross-sector organizations and initiatives.

The collaborative of groups are coming together to create the conditions that will allow the diverse SFUSD student population to graduate from high school, attain a postsecondary credential, and have the option to work, live, and lead in the city. In essence, the STEM Talent Pathway is a commitment to ensure that San Francisco retains its rich and diverse character and soul, while simultaneously diversifying San Francisco’s workforce.  

The vitality of the STEM Talent Pathway collaborative is found in SFUSD’s inclusive and inspiring statement, Vision 2025 that captures the aspiration and vision for reimagining how public education will need to change over the next decade to meet the dynamic future of the city. This Vision provides San Francisco with the Graduate Profile; a framework for what academic knowledge and skills, as well as a host of dispositions and behaviors, SFUSD students should develop to compete and thrive in the 21st Century.  Last year, Mayor Edwin Lee, Superintendent Richard Carranza and the leaders of several corporate, philanthropic and educational institutions began a dialogue about how to make San Francisco a national example of preparing all students to thrive in the 21st Century. This included responding to President Barack Obama’s My Brother and Sister’s Keeper, a call to communities across the country to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of all young people to ensure they reach their full potential.

Believing that a collaborative strategy is imperative to the success of any education initiative, the Mayor, Superintendent, and the President/CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce launched Unite SF, a collective impact model to identify common goals to put students on a path to succeed through their K-12 education, to graduate having been prepared for higher educational opportunities and to secure a regarding career in the industry of their choice. The STEM field was identified as one of the first areas of opportunity.

With this foundation for a STEM Talent Pathway, the tech and business community has committed to work in sync with SFUSD, institutions of higher education and city leaders to track and prepare students as they journey through their postsecondary pathway and committed to help to connect the students with internships/summer work experiences in San Francisco. As a key project of Unite-SF, the Chamber will coordinate with the business community to offer various opportunities for students to experience careers in San Francisco and therefore nurture the next generation of local talent for their companies. Each year at the annual Chamber breakfast, qualitative and quantitative data will be presented to the business community as a measure of accountability to ensure that businesses are transparently and collectively supporting these students with internships, workforce experiences and ultimately, employment.