Transforming Young Lives Through Science.

Southwest Airlines is committed to making our communities stronger. We believe that our people are our most powerful fuel and we continue to find ways to make a difference in the lives of those living in the cities we serve. That is why Southwest Airlines is pleased to partner with Ocean Discovery Institute, who also believes in the power of people – young people to be exact.

Ocean Discovery Institute believes in a future where all young people succeed; where they become the next generation’s diverse and thoughtful leadership, and because of this, cities are resilient to climate change, ecosystems thrive, and discoveries are made that protect our loved ones and make our time on earth even richer.

Today, too many young people in the U.S. live in poverty and lack opportunities to succeed; especially access to rigorous science education. Because of this, kids who grow up in underserved communities do not believe science is something they can do or that a scientist is someone they can be. Ocean Discovery has demonstrated that a local solution may have a national impact. By providing continuous science opportunities, paired with mentoring and tools to overcome challenges – their young people unlock their potential and achieve at unprecedented rates.

Their model targets one community at a time, and provides a continuum of programming in-school and out-of-school, in order to reach students from elementary through college and into careers. By beginning in City Heights, a neighborhood that is among the most diverse in the nation, they have experienced unprecedented results, earning the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

Today, Ocean Discovery reaches 6,000 young people each year, resulting in students increasing test scores by an average of 30%, becoming eight times more likely to graduate from college than their peers, and many obtaining careers in science. This year, they are opening a state-of-the-art Living Lab, designed by architect Rob Quigley, in the heart of City Heights. The Lab will enable Ocean Discovery to reach 10,000 students each year, increase program quality and frequency, and expand the role of families, teachers and mentors. Importantly, students here will achieve career and educational goals, earn financial independence and develop the solutions that will make a difference in our world. While the results here in San Diego are remarkable, the organization is simultaneously working to establish Ocean Discovery in Norfolk, Virginia.

In fact, they are already starting to see change taking hold – Jorge Rivera started with Ocean Discovery in the 6th grade. He took every opportunity to participate in programming, including their 5-week research study abroad program where he was able to work alongside scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Jorge shared, “today I’m an Environmental Consultant doing what I love. And my friends in Ocean Discovery? They are engineers, fisheries observers, biotech professionals, and the list goes on”.

Excited to name Southwest Airlines the official airline of Ocean Discovery, Executive Director Shara Fisler said; “The ability to fly gives you freedom. It enables you to explore, be exposed to new ideas and seize opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach. That is why we are thrilled that our students will now be able to fly to scientific conferences or to visit the college of their dreams.” This partnership demonstrates Southwest Airlines’ belief in the power of these young people, and we look forward to seeing a brighter future because of them.