SF State News {University Communications}

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Program to turn youth from truants to teachers

July 19, 2010 -- Gov. Schwarzenegger has given the green light to an SF State led program designed to divert local youth from gangs to green jobs and careers in education.

Photo of young woman using sophisticated lab technology.

A goal of the project is to increase the number of women and minorities in the sciences. 

The "SF STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Teacher Pathway Project," targets young adults from 17 to 24 who are currently engaging in gang activity, are former gang members or are at risk of gang involvement.

SF State, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and several San Francisco public agencies and nonprofit organizations will contribute educational, job placement, youth counseling, vocational training and other services to the project. Program leaders aim to offer students a compelling alternative to gangs by providing concrete career paths that can lead to viable careers in teaching or green industries.

Antwi Akom, associate professor of Africana Studies, who specializes in environmental sociology, public health and urban education, is the project's principal investigator and will manage and coordinate the programs.

"The twin goals of this program are to increase the number of science and math teachers and expand the capacity of established after-school programs to include exposure to careers in teaching, clean energy, social work or community service," Akom said. "Our approach will help students acquire the skills they'll need to survive and thrive in a 21st century economy."

The project also addresses the current shortage of people of color and women in science, technology, engineering and math fields and the growing concern that the U.S. is not producing enough educators and professionals in these fields to meet future demand.

All of the participants will receive college-level coursework in math, science, technology and other fields. In addition they will be placed in after school or part- and full-time employment and training with clean energy, educational and social services organizations. Participants who decide to pursue careers as kindergarten through eighth grade science or math teachers will take an accelerated path to degrees and certification through SF State’s College of Education. Other participants will receive vocational training in green industries or youth education and development.

Sixty-five participants will be selected for the program, which will begin in the 2010-2011 academic year. Recruitment will target San Francisco communities plagued by gang violence including the Bayview Hunters Point, Tenderloin, Mission, Western Addition, Sunnydale/Visitation Valley and Ingleside districts.

The Cesar E. Chavez Institute and Project Rebound are among the SF State programs contributing to the project.  Project partners also include the CCSF’s Gateway to College and programs at the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families; the California School-Age Consortium; Larkin Street Youth Services; Growing and Learning Opportunities and the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The SF STEM Teacher Pathway Project received $490,230 from the Governor’s California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Initiative and additional commitments from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the San Francisco Workforce Investment Board.

-- Denize Springer


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