Initiated in 1987 by UC San Francisco professors Bruce Alberts and David Ramsey, the Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) is recognized nationally and internationally as a model organization that promotes partnership between scientists and educators in support of high quality science education for K-12 students. For SEP, the primary meaning of partnership is mutual teaching and learning among partners.

What We Do

SEP offers a diverse programmatic menu: a variety of classroom-based partnership models bring UCSF volunteers into K-12 classrooms, summer courses and seminars provide pedagogically rich content learning experiences for teachers, school-site science teams build capacity for science teaching at elementary schools, and a high school internship program pairs students from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences with mentors and immerses them in a university environment conducting scientific research.

Additionally, teachers and UCSF volunteers receive lesson coaching and borrow materials from SEP’s lending library – these materials provide enriched science and health learning experiences for nearly 30% of San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) 55,000 students. Finally, SEP’s online lesson resource, SEPLessons provides access to quality investigative science and health lessons designed by our partnership teams. SEPLessons attracts over 17,000 unique visitors a month from across the United States and world.

SEP’s programs are coordinated by a dedicated group of science educators and administrative support staff. Our work is made possible by the generous financial support of the UCSF Chancellor’s Office and the UCSF School of Medicine, the Baskin Family Foundation, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the California Science Project, the Gelfand Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation

SFUSD – Our Partner

On a yearly basis, SEP works with 85-90% of the 120 public schools in San Francisco and over 300 teachers and their students. SEP’s programs are open to all SFUSD teachers and our programmatic activity is evenly distributed across SFUSD both geographically and with respect to student achievement as defined by the California Academic Performance Index (API).

An Integral Part of UCSF

There is tremendous enthusiasm at UCSF for SEP, from the Chancellor to graduate students. Since 2004, the Chancellor and School of Medicine have provided about 40% of SEP’s annual budget. The number of SEP volunteers has been increasing steadily since 1999: in 2012-2013, over 250 volunteers contributed more than 20 hours each in SFUSD classrooms. These volunteers include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, and professional (medical, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, and physical therapy) students.

Through Partnership, Everyone Benefits

SEP rigorously evaluates its work and there are demonstrated benefits for all involved: teachers, scientists, and critically, students. In 2012-13, 100% of SEP’s teacher participants and 96% of UCSF volunteers in classroom-based partnerships agreed/strongly agreed that SEP programs are a valuable and effective way to support K-12 science education. SEP’s efforts have resulted in several publications and each year SEP staff lead presentations and workshops at numerous national conferences.