Last week, I had the opportunity to take part in the unveiling of Gunn High School’s Business, Entrepreneurship, and Math (BEAM) program. As the chief architect of the program’s public-private partnership, SVTP took an instrumental role in the program’s development and management: my colleagues worked closely with the City of Palo Alto’s Office of Economic Development and recruited private sector talents to help design and write the program’s curricula, as well as provide more professionals who will go into classroom to teach and mentor. I felt especially fortunate to be present at the launch because I had not personally been greatly involved with the project and was able to look at it with fresh eyes. As such, I was just as impressed as most of the audience when the details of the program were announced.
As I came to learn throughout the evening, Gunn BEAM is a unique program which goes beyond the average high school math curriculum. Mrs. Cristina Florea, the program’s founder, explained to the audience how Gunn BEAM during this pilot year will function as an afterschool extracurricular for all interested students. Crucially, she will not serve as a teacher so much as a team leader in a peer-based setting. For the first semester, student participants will learn about business & entrepreneurship, finance, and quantitative marketing from private-sector experts through case studies. For the second semester, rather than remaining in the classroom, the participants will, supported by mentors, engage the community by helping small businesses and non-profits in Palo Alto with the skills they have learned.
Also on display was the innovative public-private partnership that makes Gunn BEAM so unique. Representatives from the City of Palo Alto, PwC, EY, and Palo Alto Family YMCA all took turns speaking about the roles that they have played in helping bring the idea of Gunn BEAM to reality. Beyond this, they all detailed the roles they will continue to play in the program through educating the students and mentoring them as they take their newfound knowledge out into the community.
Perhaps the most impressive speakers of the evening though, were Jordanna Siegal and Hayley Krolik, co-CEOs of Gunn BEAM. The two spoke with extraordinary confidence and capability and served as living testaments to the impact that a program such as this can have on high school students. While this event only served officially as a kick-off, the potential benefits that the program will bring to students were echoed by the overwhelmingly positive response from the students and parents in the audience. Parents were eager to learn more about the program during the Q & A. 40 students signed up for Gunn BEAM immediately after the event. Expectedly 57 students will attend the first lecture on September 16th.
Gunn BEAM would not have been carried out to the fruition without the generous contribution and support from the City, our private-sector partners, and the community. Join us all caring adults! With your help, local small businesses, non-profits, and large corporations alike, BEAM can further scale up and possibly be replicated in other schools in Silicon Valley.
Written by Andrew McCarty, Civic Engagement Intern at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership.
Andrew is a rising senior at Santa Clara University, where he is a Dean’s List student and an active member of the Men’s Rugby Club. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, playing sports, and spending time with his friends and family; studying abroad in London during the fall of 2014 has also fostered a love of travel. Following in a family tradition started by his grandmother, Andrew is an avid fan of the San Francisco Giants. Through his internship at SVTP, Andrew has gained a greater understanding of the relationship between small business and local government. He feels incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with an organization which enacts so much positive change on the local community as the Silicon Valley Talent Partnership, as evidenced by their 19 completed projects in six cities over the past year.