The San Diego Unified School District and the San Diego Foundation announced a new summer learning and enrichment program Friday that is intended to serve thousands of students across the city.
Students spent months indoors and apart from their teachers and friends due to the pandemic, so the goal of this new program is to help them level up for next year through summer learning.
Level Up SD: A Summer of Learning and Joy, features in-person classroom instruction in the mornings at neighborhood schools with San Diego Unified teachers and afternoon activities and enrichment offered through numerous nonprofits.
"Students have been through a lot in the last year. And there’s definitely work to be done to get students caught up academically, but more importantly, the social and emotional issues our students have dealt with over the last year," said Richard Barrera with the San Diego Unified School District. "We want to create a really fun engaging experience for kids throughout our city."
There is no cost to families for the classroom instruction or the enrichment programs, who will be made possible by the San Diego Unified Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant. To be eligible for Level Up SD, students must be enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-22 school year.
"We’re investing $5 million into micro-grants for non-profit community organizations so that they have the availability to provide those after school experiences to our students," Barrera told NBC 7.
Summer school generally is offered to a select group of struggling students. Level Up SD is open to all K-12 students. Thousands of students can take advantage of summer school and opportunities beyond the classroom -- like learning to kayak or learning to fly a drone, for the first time.
"The San Diego community is working together to provide our students with the summer experience they deserve,'' said San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten. "In addition to a robust academic curriculum, students participating in Level Up SD will have the opportunity to engage in enrichment activities of their choosing to complement their school day.''
Next month, after nonprofit programs have been vetted and selected, parents will be able to enroll their children in the afternoon enrichment programs as well as the in-person morning course work through a new website.
The website includes an interest list for parents, who will be alerted when enrollment begins. The website will be searchable in English and Spanish.
"Level Up SD nonprofits will offer students a sense of hope, belonging and anticipation to help every child flourish for the coming school year,'' said Mark Stuart, president and CEO of The San Diego Foundation. "This is an opportunity to change the learning landscape and reimagine summer, because the future for these students is shaped well beyond school hours.''
Barrera said that with federal stimulus, the program can last through the summer, next summer, and "probably the following summer" too.