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49ers Expand Dr. Harry Edwards “Follow Your Bliss” Award Grants to Five Bay Area Educators

The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and its award-winning 49ers EDU program announced the expansion of the Dr. Harry Edwards “Follow Your Bliss” Award grant to reward five educators. The platform growth is due to the support of new partners Extra Yard for Teachers and Micron Technology, Inc.

The award went to three educators in 2019 and is for full-time, K-12 educators, administrators and community educators across the Bay Area who lead the future generation with purpose, passion, dedication and love.

Each of the now five awardees will receive a $5,000 stipend for in-classroom materials and other necessary resources for the 2020 – 2021 academic year, mentorship from Dr. Edwards for the recipients and his or her fellow educators, and formal recognition at a Levi’s Stadium event with family and colleagues.

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“Dr. Edwards has been a staple in this franchise for over 20 years and this award is a testament to his impact on this organization during that time and his innate desire to continuously work to better our community,” said Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU. “When looking for partners to help us grow the impact of the Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award, it was crucial that we find organizations that were mission-aligned and believed in the importance and power of educators just like Dr. Edwards.”

Alongside the previous year’s focus on recognizing one educator from each of the three grade range categories — K-5, 6-8 and 9-12, the 49ers have added two new categories in 2020. The first focuses on an administrator, and the second on a community educator. The continued growth of the platform and the additional grants were made possible due to the partnership of Extra Yard for Teachers and Micron Technology Inc.

“We are very excited to partner once again with the 49ers after working with them last year in the lead up to the College Football Playoff National Championship,” said Brian Banowsky, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff Foundation. “We share a passion for leveraging sports as a platform for education with the 49ers and have seen first-hand the impact their programs have had on Bay Area teachers and students. The Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award aligns with our mission to inspire and empower teachers by providing them with resources and recognition for the work that they do every day to mold future generations.” 

“We believe that educators can inspire students to pursue a world of possibilities, leading and guiding them to make connections to the world beyond the classroom,” said Dee Mooney, executive director of the Micron Foundation. “Micron is honored to support them and their work through this award.”

Over the last half century, Dr. Edwards has been a nationally renowned sociologist, civil rights activist, educator, author, and 49ers team consultant. A graduate of San Jose State University, Edwards served as a Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley — his tenure spanning 1970 – 2000.

“This award would not be possible without the leadership of the York family and their commitment to generate the resources necessary to assist the development and advancement of Bay Area youth both in and beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Harry Edwards. “The expansion of this award from three to five educators is further indication of that commitment as the York family and the 49ers explore, expand, and implement ways to recognize and honor the teachers who inspire their students to learn and follow their bliss.”

The award’s namesake stems from the first step in Dr. Edwards’ Blueprint for Academic Achievement and Success: “Follow Your Bliss – Explore and consider paths that might lead not just to achieving a career interest but to realizing your calling — the educational option and emphasis that for you lies at the confluence of talent, passion, productive potential and opportunity.”

Basic criteria for the 2020 Dr. Harry Edwards “Follow Your Bliss” nomination:

  • Must be currently working in one of the nine counties of the Bay Area.
  • The teacher is a full-time educator for grades K – 12.
  • The administrator is a principal, superintendent or other full-time employee at a K-12 school.
  • The community educator is affiliated with a museum, after-school program, or nonprofit organization dedicated to providing learning opportunities for K-12 students.
  • All applicants must be deeply committed to teaching students and have a positive and lasting impact on youth;
  • Have exceptional teaching skills as evidenced by effective instructional practices and learning results; and
  • Have an engaging and inspirational presence that motivates and impacts learners.

The nomination/application window for the 2020 Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award will open March 1. For more information, please visit: www.49ers.com/bliss

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