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Beyond Innovation addresses what it will take to achieve Global Goals

November 22, 2019

We closed out an exhilarating year on a high note last week at Los Angeles’ historic Dodger Stadium for the third installment of Beyond Innovation. 200 leaders from across sport, education, business, tech, government and development came together energized and ready to propose ways to stimulate interest in STEM education through sport and innovation, identify key weakness that need to be addressed, and ultimately, to partner together for people and planet in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations has long advocated for and championed sport in pursuit of global development and peace. Similarly, it recognizes that STEM is critical to achieving the global agenda. With just over 10 years until the 2030 deadline to achieve the SDGs, Beyond Innovation attendees spent an interactive day hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation unpacking the Goals, solidifying the connections to their varied sectors and engaging on collaborative strategies across targeted Goals.

And the evening before, Dodger Stadium was also the site of the ESPN Leadership Dinner, where 60 business leaders were treated to an insightful discussion from David Goldstein, PhD Colonel (ret), U.S. Air Force and Director of Special Programs at SpaceX. He shared his expertise on the current technology landscape, the leadership needed to enhance the sector and how sport can help advance STEM for future work forces.

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Overall Innovation takeaways were that in order to successfully engage young people and to build the strong STEM workforce needed to innovate solutions to the global challenges, we have to urgently and proactively diversify the people who are creating the solutions, put resource behind providing students and educators with the needed tools and to show the concrete connections between classroom and the real world – making it relatable, authentic and fun.

“STEM can and is playing a crucial role in addressing the world's timeliest issues, however, the tech revolution is being centered with those in a place of privilege,” said Nick Keller, Beyond Sport Founder and President.

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“We need to include much more diversity to deliver on the innovation needed to move the world forward. Sport has a role here to help engage young people and those on the fringes to show them how relevant STEM subjects are in their everyday life and help bridge the interest gap,” he continued.

Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Nichol Whiteman, who has been instrumental in leading the Foundation’s efforts to positively impact the local Los Angeles community brought their game-changing “Bigger than Baseball” philosophy to the forefront – providing attendees with the opportunity to get hands-on, participating in an on field practical session that showed how the Foundation and its partners bring math and science to life for teachers and students.

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“The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation recognizes that STEM is essential to addressing poverty, inequality, and so much more,” said Whiteman. “As the role of sports continues to grow in advancing STEM, we will focus on a global view to create opportunities for all. Beyond Innovation is just the start of our desire to be leaders, collaborators, and strategic investors in direct programs, education, and experiential learning for millions of Los Angeles youth.”

Education, inclusion and solutions underlined everything, with subject matter experts sharing realities from their experiences and providing best practice on how to address.

“When I first went out to recruit for our school, our girls didn't know what an engineer was. I think what's so important is to have women, women of color, companies invite these young girls in so that they can see what it's like to be in a place like Google, like SpaceX. What it's like to be an innovator so that they have that idea in their heads,” shared Dr. Liz Hicks, Founder and Principal, LA Unified School District - Girls Academic Leadership Academy

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Innovation also brought voices from around the world to the conversations, including Pete Fitzboydon, former CEO of London Sport and OpenActive community member, who shared the eye-opening fact that “30% of city congestion is due to people trying to find parking” in his talk on Sustainable Cities and Communities. He followed with how STEM can help answer as the tech exists to guide people to parking spaces, bringing a 10% CO2 reduction from streets.  

Rounding out the morning sessions, 49ers EDU & Museum Director, Jesse Lovejoy, moderated a lively panel that that took discussion points from the preceding talks to expand on the sport sector’s role in the link between STEM and the SDGs. Play Like A Girl's Dr. Kimberly Clay, MLB's Melanie LeGrande and professional soccer player and community advocate, Mike Lahoud gave their reflections on the day and then honed in on what it means for sport and STEM moving forward.  

Particularly poignant was a personal ephiphany from Lahoud, who after having come to the US as a refugee from the Sierra Leone was later asked the question, "How do I want to change the world?'' He came to realize that it came down to his loves of soccer, math (his degree) and STEM and using his them and his personal story to inspire youth.  

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Afternoon roundtable sessions led by members of the Sport & STEM Alliance, who had come together the day before at the TGR Learning Lab hosted by the TGR Foundation – a Tiger Woods charity to chart a way forward for 2020, prioritized shaping a collective focus. Members brought forward the 10 areas that they feel have the greatest potential for collective impact to workshop with Beyond Innovation attendees.

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Then, in keeping with sport, a lively and competitive Pitch session followed where representatives from each table made their case for their topic to become one of the three that the Alliance will concentrate on next year – with the top online vote recipient set to receive $10,000 of Alliance funds to support the work.

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We’re thrilled to announce that with 54% of the votes, Educating the Educators: using sport to enable our educators to teach STEM-based topics came out on top. As Quality Education speaker Chris Rougier, STEM Curriculum Developer for Loyola Marymount University, stated earlier in the day: “Teachers need access to funding to help students innovate real world solutions. They need tools and supplies to build real world things. We push the idea of STEM on kids, but they really don't comprehend what that is and how it impacts their life or future pathways.”

Information will be coming soon on Alliance plans to activate on these areas, and we encourage you to join the community to be part of the 2020 journey! Rounding out the top three were:

Connecting STEM to Gender Equality: establishing ways to communicate and disseminate sport’s role in engaging girls

Targeting Hard-to-Reach Groups: identifying best practices in how sport can engage minority and marginalized groups in STEM

All in all, it was a high-spirited two days dedicated to collaboration on Sport, STEM and the Global Goals. Stated by event attendee Lisa Finegan, Director of K-12 Physical Education and rugby coach at ICEF Public Schools: 

"The Beyond Innovation  disscussions allowed time for reflection and taking advantage of opportunities in real time. And importantly, addressed what's next. I think that's what Beyond Sport has done uniquely. As a teacher, I'm now further motivated to assess what I'm doing and adjust based on similar or new projects other attendees are running."  

Beyond Innovation was supported by Host Partner, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Supporting Partner, 49ers Foundation; Official Partners SAP and EVERFI; and, International Media Sponsor, ESPN.

 We want your feedback! Beyond Innovation attendees, please make sure to fill out your surveys so we can make the 2020 event even better. 


TGR Foundation Celebrates Milestone In Education Impact