City Heights, an inland community of San Diego located approximately 10 miles from the Pacific coast, is rich in ethnic and racial diversity but poor in material wealth and resources. Thirty-four percent of its population of nearly 85,000 are foreign-born, many of whom are immigrants or refugees. Collectively, the population speaks more than 30 languages. One of the poorest areas in San Diego County, the community is burdened by poverty, with 43% living at the federal poverty level or below and over 94% of students eligible for federal free or reduced lunch programs. More than one-third of the population have not graduated from high school. Resources for high-quality public education for its approximate 21,000 youth is lacking in City Heights. Despite the high density of institutions of higher education and scientific industry in San Diego, the community experiences little STEM engagement, either inside or outside of the school classroom. Consequently, science and conservation are simply not a part of the fabric of life in this community.
Ocean Discovery Institute leverages the breadth of regional and local resources and expertise to engage students, who represent the greatest untapped talent pool, in rigorous science and conservation programming that will prepare them to become our future decision makers and workforce.