As the first major league sports franchise established in San Francisco in 1946, the 49ers have made the Bay Area home for the past 75 years. However, this commitment stretches beyond a connection to the physical location, as the franchise has been equally committed to empowering the communities that support them.
Through their 'Players For A Purpose' event, and new SAP partnership extension to bring STEAM learning to the Bay, the 49ers are transcending empty buzzwords to make a positive impact in their community, especially when it comes to the kids.
With the 2021-22 NFL season kicking off this past weekend, the 49ers team has been busy for two months studying game film, taking care of any injuries, and pushing through workouts and practices with the ultimate goal of winning the franchise’s 6th Super Bowl. Elsewhere around the organization, the front office has been gearing up for more fan engagement this year. As the easing of pandemic restrictions have allowed visitors to once again return to Levi’s Stadium, it has also allowed the 49ers to once again step out into the community and have a greater influence.
For Jenni Luke, VP of Community Impact for the 49ers the past three seasons, this means using the platform of football to spread the word on important issues and to engage with the 49er Faithful in Bay Area counties and beyond.
“Community is a verb,” Luke explains. “You have to take action to engage people and move things forward.”
Earlier this month, the 49ers players, coaches, and front office gathered with a number of fans at Levi’s Stadium as the 49ers Foundation hosted the fourth-annual Players For A Purpose event.
90 @49ers players + 500 generous members of the Faithful = 1 amazing night for 100,000+ Bay Area youth served by the #49ersFoundation. A great night at @LevisStadium for Players For a Purpose. pic.twitter.com/xYJg4M93JJ— Al Guido (@AlGuido) August 28, 2019
The 49ers Foundation has been working diligently to educate and empower Bay Area youth since 1991, most specifically through their 49ers EDU award-winning STEAM education program and 49ers PREP’s nationally acclaimed youth football, health, and wellness programs.
While the 49ers Foundation was eager to host the Faithful in the stadium again for the first time since the beginning of Covid, they were even more thrilled to raise $650,000 for the 49ers EDU and PREP initiatives that are dedicated to inspiring the confidence and teamwork kids need to face any challenge.
Raheem Mostert and his wife Devon delivered the keynote address for the evening and spoke about what community really means to the 49ers.
"My first couple weeks on the job, in December 2019, some of the first people I met were Raheem and Devon, because they were volunteering all the time," Luke tells SFist. "They are a great representation of the organization and are really great people."
The record-breaking amount of money raised at the event will go directly towards the Foundation’s two direct funded programs, 49ers EDU and 49ers PREP.
In 2020, the 49ers PREP launched a handful of virtual initiatives as well as online flag football certification courses as part of an attempt to keep the community active throughout the pandemic, garnering over 1.5 million digital impressions to date. In 2021, the 49ers EDU taught a total of 83 virtual lessons, reaching 2,317 students in 68 schools, helping to alleviate some of the distance learning burden for educators across the Bay Area. The funds raised at Players For A Purpose will go directly to funding these initiatives and others like them.
Building on the momentum from this event, the 49ers announced yesterday that 49ers EDU is partnering with SAP to add data science and analytics to their education curriculum in an attempt to help grow the next generation of STEAM professionals coming out of the Bay Area.
SAP first became a corporate partner of the 49ers in 2014, and helped to develop a first-of-its-kind venue management system, the Executive Huddle, which allows the 49ers business strategy and analytics team to monitor and respond to specific operational areas on game days in Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers and SAP will now be integrating Executive Huddle into the 49ers EDU Virtual Lesson Series, offering a dedicated lesson on data science and analytics that focuses on math vocabulary and relevant concepts, complementing existing lessons that focus on art, math, environmental sustainability, and career path exploration
In a normal year, the 49ers EDU STEAM Education Field Trip Program would welcome more than 60,000 K-8 students for hands-on, project based learning in the 49ers Museum, where students use leading-edge technological tools and techniques in a dynamic environment. For the first time ever, upon resumption of the program, high school students will be invited to join in on the fun and will be taken directly to the Executive Huddle suite in the stadium to work through data science scenarios that 49ers executives might experience on game days.
“What’s special about what we do here in the community at the 49ers is looking at who we are as an organization, and as a football team, and intersecting that with what the community needs,” Luke says. “To develop programming for the specific needs of the community is really, I think, a best practice way to go about it.”
“When you think about 49ers EDU and the intersection of under-resourced communities here in the Bay Area and STEM,” she continues, “how do we spark an interest in all youth to think about STEM as their future and career and how do we leverage resources in our community as the 49ers?”
The 49ers have a multitude of other initiatives planned for the rest of the season for fans to be excited about, including a new partnership with Stash, an industry leading subscription platform that empowers middle class Americans to build wealth through financial literacy programming for students and adults. As more announcements are revealed throughout the season, the 49ers Foundation will continue working to build upon the $50M they have put back into historically underserved communities, furthering their work to help level the playing field for more and more Bay Area youth across the past 30 years.
Top Image: Clive Rose/Getty Images