News & Press

SD2 Launch Day!

After operating in “stealth mode” for several months raising scholarship funds, awarding scholarships to students, and forming important strategic alliances with educators, community organizations, schools/universities, and companies in the County, San Diego Squared is now live online at!

STEM male black student wearing face mask


 Media Contact: Jen Carroll




San Diego Squared Is Empowering Tomorrow’s STEM Leaders Today


[San Diego, CA] April 27, 2021 – San Diego Squared (SD2) proudly launched today. SD2 is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focused non-profit community organization established to connect underrepresented San Diego students to the power of STEM by providing access to education, mentorship, and the resources they need to lead the talent pipeline.


“No community has a monopoly on incredible talent – diversity belongs in STEM,” said H. Puentes, Executive Director of San Diego Squared. “By building trust in underrepresented communities, securing long-term funding, and innovative programing with community input and buy-in, we believe we can make a difference in the lives of these students, in our companies, and in our community.”


“For us, it is about investing in students and building a network of advocates and community leaders ready to work with them from the classroom to the board room,” said San Diego Squared Founder, Bill Rastetter, long-time San Diego biotech entrepreneur, scientist, philanthropist and venture capitalist currently serving as chair of the board of Neurocrine Biosciences, Fate Therapeutics, and Daré Bioscience, Inc. He is former chair of Illumina and is a founding board member and investor in Grail, Inc. Among other awards, he is the recipient of the Biotechnology Heritage Award, and is a member of the CONNECT Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.


SD2 is grateful to acknowledge the unwavering support of our founding sponsors led by Bill and Marisa Rastetter, Neurocrine Biosciences, Illumina Corporate Foundation, TRACON Pharmaceuticals, and many more.


“At Neurocrine Biosciences, we value everyone’s unique experience and perspective and know that being diverse, equitable and inclusive makes us stronger. We believe that the more diverse voices that contribute to technology and innovation in STEM, the better we can fulfill our vision of delivering life- changing treatments to people with serious, under-addressed disorders,” shared Julie Cooke, SD2 Board member and Chief Human Resources Officer at Neurocrine Biosciences. “We are committed to partnering with organizations like SD2 to bridge the diversity gap and empower young people from underserved communities here in San Diego to pursue careers in STEM.”


“We are proud to support SD2 and the investment they are making in supporting San Diego’s underrepresented students”, said Charles Theuer MD PhD, SD2 Board member and CEO and President of TRACON Pharmaceuticals. “We are confident that our comprehensive approach will allow underrepresented students to achieve successful STEM careers that will have lasting positive effects on the San Diego community.”


One of SD2’s three “Pillar Programs”, The Squared Fellows program provides underrepresented high school juniors from San Diego County mentorship and an immersive experience into the breadth and depth of careers in STEM. This program gives students front-row access to some of San Diego’s most innovative companies, and partners them with a mentor who is ready to share their experience and support the students’ journey.


“Illumina is honored to support the establishment of SD2 to bring equitable access to STEM programming for high school and college students in San Diego,” said Aimee Hoyt, SD2 Board member and Chief People Officer at Illumina. “We are thrilled to see this investment enabling a diverse pipeline of future scientists, innovators and trail blazers.”


About San Diego Squared (SD2)

San Diego Squared (SD2) is a San Diego STEM-focused non-profit established in Spring 2021 to connect underrepresented students to the power of STEM by providing access to education, mentorship, and the resources they need to lead the talent pipeline. Our vision is to give students their best shot at the brightest future. Our mission is to build a community of leaders and mentors that inspire a new path, and a new model for success. Our network of advocates and community leaders will guide students as they begin and develop their STEM careers. To learn more, support, and get involved, please visit


It is the world-changing, paradigm-breaking, life-altering power of a simple recognition: I belong here.