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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #12-100
October 15, 2012
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

Basketball Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Serve
as California's After School STEM Ambassador

SACRAMENTO—Basketball legend and New York Times best-selling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will help lead efforts to boost after school STEM learning opportunities for California's kids, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today at the California STEM Summit in San Diego.

Education in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—is widely considered to be one of the keys to California's economic future. It is a major cornerstone of Torlakson's A Blueprint for Great Schools and the focus of a task force he created in the spring.

Abdul-Jabbar—whose Skyhook Foundation aims in part to use STEM education "To Give Kids A Shot That Can't Be Blocked" by helping them aspire to higher educational goals—will serve as the California After School STEM Ambassador, speaking publicly and raising awareness of the importance of education in these subjects.

Torlakson and Abdul-Jabbar appeared together Monday at the California STEM Summit in San Diego to announce the appointment.

"Few things are more important to children's educations and to California's economy than the STEM subjects, and few people have more vision and commitment to making an impact in kids' lives than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar," Torlakson said. "I've long admired Kareem as an athlete, and I'm delighted now to count him as an ally in giving California's kids every chance to succeed, not just in the classroom, but after school as well."

Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar, 65, is the NBA's All-Time Leading Scorer, having amassed 38,387 points over a 20-year career. He has won six NBA championships, was league MVP a record six times, has been chosen for a record-setting 19 NBA All-Star teams, was a High School All American, and is the only college graduate in the 75-year history of the NCAA to be named Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament three years in a row.

Since retiring from the game, the man who perfected the "skyhook" has become a speaker, author, film-maker, educator, and Global Cultural Ambassador. His latest book, What Color is My World? The Lost History of African American Inventors, is being used to encourage children to master the STEM subjects in elementary schools all over the United States.

"If America is to maintain our high standard of living, we must continue to innovate," said Abdul-Jabbar. "We are competing with nations many times our size, and STEM learning represents the engines of innovation. With these engines we can lead the world, because knowledge is real power."

This is a one-year appointment. Abdul-Jabbar will make appearances at several after school STEM events throughout the year and promote STEM as a critical issue in both education and the economy.

Abdul-Jabbar will launch a multi-city national tour in 2013in support of STEM Education that includes a 300+ piece memorabilia exhibit that allows kids to see how STEM Education continues to play a role in the business of basketball. More about the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Experience is at Skyhook Foundation [] External link opens in new window or tab..

A 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce study, STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future [] [Note: the preceding link is no longer active], found that over the past 10 years, growth in jobs involving STEM fields was three times greater than that of non-STEM occupations. The report also forecasts that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than others in the coming decade.

Convened by the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), the California STEM Summit is bringing together business, government, education, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to launch new STEM education initiatives to drive improvement in STEM education and workforce development.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, January 4, 2021
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