49ers’ Denise DeBartolo York Education Center and STEAM Education at SXSW

The San Francisco 49ers have had a busy couple months. There was the trade for the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there was the picking of Trey Lance with that pick, the launching of their 75th Anniversary campaign and, now, the 49ers Foundation is celebrating its 30th Anniversary.

“The 30th anniversary means a lot,” said Justin Prettyman, Executive Director of the 49ers Foundation. “When I took on this role a couple of years ago, I didn’t realize how closely I would be working with ownership and how involved they were or are…in the 49ers Foundation…[I]t means a lot from a team level and what our players and our alumni have contributed and continue to contribute. It means over 500,000 Bay Area youth that have been impacted by our work over the last 30 years. It means over $50 million distributed back into the community, into historically disadvantaged communities throughout the Bay Area…”

On Monday, the Foundation unveiled a new logo, as well as the first event that’s a part of the Anniversary campaign. The Foundation, in partnership with Tipping Point Community, will hold the “Race to Tackle Poverty presented by Chevron.” It will be a virtual event in which participants will commit to 30 miles of riding, running or walking. Those fans that are interested can learn more at 49ers.com/tacklepoverty.

“…[W]e’re super, super excited about that endeavor,” Prettyman said. “Then we have some other really cool stuff that is going to be taking place throughout the season. Our players and our team leadership have agreed to giving each player several warm-up jerseys or warm up shirts that will have the 49ers Foundation’s 30th anniversary logo and on the back of his shirt it says, educate and empower.”

49ers EDU

Last month, 49ers EDU presented by Chevron announced a Virtual Lesson Series focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Art & Math) for K-8 students and teachers. The program, which is is an extension of the regular 49ers EDU in-person programming at Levi’s® Stadium, is available online and is free of charge.

“We developed the 49ers EDU digital playbook, which is an interactive, completely re-envisioned and executed version of our textbook, which would normally go along with our field trip experience,” said Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU and the 49ers Museum. “…We then took a number of the most popular lessons and activities within that book and we built what we call our digital playbook review series, which is five-to-eight-to-10-minute long YouTube videos where myself and some of our other instructors are saying, ‘Okay, here’s what we’re talking about in this activity.’ And then just give a little bit more backstory and context to help parents introduce subjects and to help teachers also do the same thing in their environments.”

Distance-learning was challenging for students, teachers and parents alike. 49ers EDU worked with educators to find out where they needed extra help and then did what it could to provide said help.

“…[W]e’re literally teaching a 45-to-60-minute lesson within that constructed environment that the teacher maintains,” said Lovejoy. “To go back to the things that we heard from educators, the first was, we need help. The second was, the kind of experience that 49ers EDU provides is very unique in the sense that it’s grounded in this concept where we’re trying to get kids to think differently about these subjects using sports and using the Niners. So they were missing us, I guess you could say, in the sense of really wanting to be able to come and visit the program. So what was the next best thing? And for us, this is the next best thing. It’s as good as we can do to be a part of the learning environment without kids being able to be in our building. So that is what the virtual lesson series is and does. We essentially beta launched it over the course of about two or three months prior to the formal launch, which was just a couple of weeks ago.”

The 49ers EDU Virtual Playbook has also been translated into Spanish, which is an exciting accomplishment.

“…[T]hat was another thing that we knew we’ve always wanted to do with the traditional playbook. And again, the times being what they were, we just set out and said, ‘Well, this is the perfect time. We’ve created this digital version. Let’s do this.’ we’re embarking on the exact same process as we did the first time around. We’re going to introduce the playbook first. We’ll probably then go and do something very similar in terms of creating a series of videos that serve the same purpose. We probably won’t teach in Spanish the same way that we do the virtual lessons in English, but we did have a couple of lessons that were dual immersion that we instructed back in our in-person programs. So I think it’s very likely you will see a similar matriculation as we experience what life looks like in the fall and just how people receive the new Spanish content, which we’re really excited about.”

As always, the organization’s commitment to the community comes from the top and is prevalent throughout Levi’s Stadium.

“[The Yorks are] just a great family,” Prettyman said. “Truly, truly, truly, I think a lot of people say it, but they actually deliver on family comes first…and it trickles down for everybody who works with them. And then they approach our fans, they approach our work with that same mindset of like, this is a family. If you have the 49ers oval on you or you support the team, you are part of our family and being a part of the family means you need to help out those family members who are most in need and furthest from opportunity…I meet with our ownership on a weekly basis. They are heavily, heavily involved in all things that go on and they really use their status and their position to rally people and get support from both their own networks and getting friends of theirs to come in and contribute and get involved in our work. We’re really reaching back out and staying in touch with a lot of our alumni and putting me in touch and setting the foundation up for success in that respect.”

*Photos provided by 49ers.com

Tracy Sandler

Tracy Sandler

I created Fangirl Sports Network as a place for female sports fans to follow their favorite teams with content and coverage that speaks directly to females. It started with one and then eight and now 32 NFL Fangirls and 15 NBA Fangirls.