Reach for the Stars Academy

SMUD partnered with the Reach for the Stars Academy in Oak Park to help prepare 7th grade students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Reach for the Stars Academy students with Jose Hernandez.
Founder and former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez (center) at the Academy opening, flanked by students and members of the Sustainable Communities team.

The Reach For The Stars Academy is a groundbreaking University of the Pacific summer program that prepares promising 7th grade students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Academy’s goal is to "inspire youth to find a passion in STEM education, establish a family commitment to education, and develop a support network through community engagement". Founded by the university, in conjunction with former NASA astronaut and university alumnus Jose Hernandez, the program includes lectures, hands-on experiments and field trips.

This summer, the university partnered with our Sustainable Communities program and the Sacramento City Unified School District to launch a new Sacramento-based chapter on their McGeorge campus in Oak Park.


Academy students learn firsthand about infrastructure during a trip to the construction site of the new Science Center.

SMUD funded the program, developed STEM specific curriculum support and provided mentors and speakers. Led by SMUD’s Generation Management team, students participated in solar activities, such as learning how to operate a solar motor. Parents were educated on the multiple cost-saving programs from SMUD’s Residential Assistance team, including a segment on financial literacy provided by SAFE Credit Union, one of SMUD’s partners.


In addition, our staff assisted in tours of the Golden 1 Center and the construction site for the new Science Center (scheduled to open in 2020). This provided the students with a firsthand view of the integral role infrastructure plays in the design of large-scale construction projects, from concept to completion. By the end of the program they were able to take the information they learned and build their own miniature construction projects.


Our partnership with the Reach for the Stars Academy meets the goals of our Sustainable Communities program to enhance community education and training, which contributes to Sacramento’s future workforce and a prosperous economy.