Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation
Mr. Solomon has served as the Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation since 2008, overseeing their philanthropic activities, focused on STEM Education, Youth, Integrative Health and Jewish Leadership. He led the design and development of the OC STEM Initiative, the nation’s first STEM Ecosystem, which has served as the model for the development of STEM Ecosystems in 27 cities around the country. Mr. Solomon, in addition to serving as the Chair of OC STEM, serves as co-chair of the STEM Funders Network, a collaboration of 26 foundations focused on STEM education from PreK-20, encompassing formal and formal learning platforms. He also serves as co-chair of the STEM Learning Ecosystem Initiative whose goal is to cultivate the development of STEM Ecosystems in over 100 cities around the country by 2020. This initiative has received national attention and support from such organizations as OSTP in the White House, DOE, CNCS, CGI, NSTA and ASTC to name a few. Mr. Solomon also serves on the board of the CDE Foundation, and is a sought after speaker on STEM education, presenting often around the country. He also serves on both the Dean’s Advisory Councils for the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the UCI Samueli School of Engineering, as well as the Dean’s Advisory Council for the UCI School of Education.
What excites you most about STEM Education?
The world has become so competitive that in order to be successful, students today need higher skills. Jobs require employees to critically think, analyze, collaborate, and innovate. As our populace grows and becomes more diverse, EVERY person will need these attributes to live a good life, to raise a healthy family and to be productive community citizens. STEM attributes provide for the underpinning of that opportunity.
What are your hopes for the future of STEM Education?
Learning is 24/7, in and out of school. Our systems need to blend together so that every person has an opportunity to attain the skills they need to live a healthy and productive life. In the ideal system, a learner should be able to engage and learn at any time, day or night, on line, in clusters or in a classroom, to get what they need. Brick and Mortar learning is a thing of the past.
What are your current and/or past experiences with STEM Education – are there any highlights you would want people to know about the work the Samueli Foundation is doing at this time?
My biggest takeaways are really two-fold: 1) no one entity cannot make real change. It requires the collaboration of many, aligned to a common purpose and objective, and 2) if you really want to have impact and make change, remove your ego from the room. It is ALL about THEM and not you. Only when these cultural shifts occur can change anf impact be deep and wide.