Foundation event with 49ers

Staff from the Chelsea Foundation travelled to California this week to lead a mini-hackathon as our unique education partnership with NFL team the San Francisco 49ers continued.

Last month saw the first event of the partnership - which sees the Chelsea Foundation’s education department and their counterparts from California, the EDU Academy, work together to bring science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to local children - take place at Stamford Bridge.

On Tuesday it was the 49ers’ turn to host, with Levi’s Stadium the backdrop for the mini-hackathon where students, who are all part of the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, which currently works with 240 children, were given four hours to come up with a way for the 49ers to attract new audience.

The event was a lead-in to the Beyond Innovation conference hosted by the 49ers and Beyond Sport on Wednesday. The conference itself focuses on how sports can be used to support science, technology, engineering, and math education.

 Chelsea Foundation Head of Education, Matt Mead

The event was a lead-in to the Beyond Innovation conference hosted by the 49ers and Beyond Sport on Wednesday. The conference itself focuses on how sports can be used to support science, technology, engineering, and math education.

The hackathon was run by Chelsea Foundation head of education Matt Mead and his 49ers counterpart, Jesse Lovejoy. Mead said: ‘it was an innovative and engaging day working with the students from Silicon Valley. This kind of hack programme and structure is not common within North American sports foundations, so it was excellent to showcase how we engage students in business and entrepreneurship in London at the Foundation and share with our US counterparts.’

In addition to working with the 49ers Foundation and the students, it was a real pleasure to meet and work with corporate volunteers from SAP, who spent the day supporting the groups and guiding them through the hack. The ideas generated were all of a high standard and it was a pleasure to see how a Chelsea Foundation programme fitted so well into a US education session.’

Jennifer Lee, program director of the institute, explained that its focus mixes empowering the students’ interests in STEM with empowering them with leadership and critical thinking skills. She said: ‘We teach them the design thinking cycle, and really try to train them on not limiting themselves to what might be the ‘right’ answer,’

The day started with a brainstorming session before the young people were encouraged to write down all their thoughts and place them on the stadium walls using Post-It notes with the plan to get as many ideas as possible ‘out of your head and down on paper.’

After brainstorming, the students at the hackathon were tasked with fine tuning their proposals around what they thought might be an ideal user, and coming up with a one page business plan.

Then their teams pitched their ideas one-by-one to a panel of three judges: Hannah Gordon, the 49ers chief administrative officer and general counsel, Nick Keller, founder and president of Beyond Sport, and Scott Leatherman, COO and VP of Marketing and Communications of SAP Silicon Valley.

Most of the proposals were for apps, with points and incentives, and a strong social media component.

The seventh team to pitch presented an app dubbed “First Faithful,” making a connection to the nickname of diehard 49ers fans. The app gave away loyalty points for in-stadium activities and targeted young fans with big families. The team’s presentation and business plan was polished and detailed, and the three judges picked the group out as the winner.

The winning students then had the chance to pitch again at an ESPN leadership dinner hosted later that night.

At the conclusion of the day, all involved were delighted with how things had gone and we look forward to working together again. Mead added: ‘To come full circle 12 months after first meeting g at Beyond Innovation and complete the partnership over two legs in London and Silicon Valley, it a proud moment for me and the team. It has been a pleasure working with Jesse and the 49ers and we will now look at future opportunities and hopefully extending the impact of our programmes by working with SAP once agin.

'Our partnership shows how the power of sport, whether soccer or US football, can engage students and get them to work and think critically for the 21st century and prepare themselves for their future ahead.’