$5 million in funding will be granted to nonprofits that offer afternoon summer enrichment programming responsive to the needs of San Diego Unified students most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Students with butterfly

Students outside playing sports

Summer Learning Matters

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted every single aspect of our lives. Students, our region’s children and youth, have been especially impacted by the disruption to in-person learning and programs for youth. And, despite the resilience they have demonstrated over the past year, the COVID-19 crisis has both highlighted and exacerbated the existing inequalities challenging young San Diegans.

Summertime has always been a unique opportunity to support the whole student experience. But not every student has access.

Research has historically demonstrated that unequal summertime opportunities contribute to poor academic and social emotional outcomes for students who lack access to summertime programs. High-quality summer learning programs can accelerate learning, impart non-cognitive skills that impact academic achievement and nurture a sense of community and belonging.

This summer more than ever, there is an increased need for responsive summertime learning environments, especially for those student groups most impacted by the pandemic.

In response, The San Diego Foundation is proud to work with school districts and nonprofit organizations across San Diego County to bring our young people a summer of learning and joy.

In the City of San Diego, we have partnered with San Diego Unified to deliver the Level Up SD Grants Program, a funding opportunity for nonprofit organizations delivering reimagined and enhanced summer enrichment programs for students enrolled with San Diego Unified. Read more about Level Up SD grant opportunities for nonprofit organizations below.

The San Diego Foundation will also soon announce a grants program available to nonprofit organizations delivering summer enrichment to student communities throughout the county outside of San Diego Unified.

To receive information on this soon-to-be-announced grant program, submit a “Subscribe for Program Updates” form.

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Level Up SD Grants Program

In response to the learning and enrichment needs of students most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District, seeks proposals from nonprofit organizations to reimagine and enhance the 2021 summer school experience with free afternoon enrichment programs for students enrolled with San Diego Unified.

Level Up SD grants to nonprofit community organizations will fund summer enrichment activities. Grants are intended to expand the spots in summer enrichment activities available, at no cost, to students enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-2022 school year.

Enrichment activities will respond to the needs of students most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, accelerate student learning and support the development of well-being, knowledge, and skills through the summer while promoting a sense of hope, belonging and anticipation for the coming academic year.

Approximately $5 million will be awarded and disbursed towards these efforts. Nonprofit community-based organizations, district-managed schools and municipalities are eligible for funding for enrichment programs in summer 2021 – beginning in early June and completed by late August.

Grant amounts may range from $10,000 to $500,000; A wide variety of nonprofit community organizations will be considered including high-capacity organizations with existing, scalable programs, organizations with new program models, smaller and grassroots nonprofit organizations, and organizations with a track record of service in communities most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Beginning Friday, April 9, nonprofits can apply for a Level Up SD Grant. Applications must be received by Friday, April 30 at 5:00pm.


Assistance to Interested Nonprofit Organizations

Organizations interested in applying can participate in one of two optional Grantseekers Forums. Please select and register below for the forum of your choice.

For more information, please email us at summerlearning@sdfoundation.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Level Up SD Grants Program?

In response to the learning and enrichment needs of students most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District, seeks proposals from nonprofit organizations to reimagine and enhance the 2021 summer school experience with free afternoon enrichment programs for students enrolled with San Diego Unified.

Level Up SD grants to nonprofit community organizations will fund summer enrichment activities. Grants are intended to expand the spots in summer enrichment activities available, at no cost, to students enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-2022 school year.

How much funding is available?

At this time, $5 million is available to fund these efforts. Grants are intended to support expanded learning programs in summer 2021 – beginning in early June and completed by late August.

How much funding can a nonprofit organization receive?

Grant amounts are expected to range from $10,000 to $500,000. A wide range of nonprofit community organizations will be considered, including high-capacity organizations with existing, scalable programs, organizations with new program models, grassroots nonprofit organizations, and organizations with a track record of service in communities most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Who is eligible to apply?

Nonprofit community-based organizations, district-managed schools and municipalities are eligible for funding.

Applicants will meet the following criteria:

  • Be a nonprofit community organizations with 501(c)(3) public charity status in good standing, located in San Diego County and serving San Diego Unified students. A 501(c)(3) public charity may serve as a fiscal sponsor for another applicant to administer the grant and provide regular financial reporting to The San Diego Foundation so long as the applicant is located in San Diego County and serving San Diego Unified students, or a district-managed school or municipality.
  • Ability to electronically collect, track and relay data back to San Diego Unified based on the registration and daily attendance of San Diego Unified students with student IDs on a weekly basis
  • Ability to fully execute the proposed program by August 31, 2021
  • Ability to collect and track participation of students with student IDs
  • Ability to fully execute the proposed project by August 31, 2021
  • Ability to provide services at no cost to San Diego Unified students

This grant opportunity will not fund endowments, existing obligations/debt, scholarships, singular events, such as one-time workshops, or projects that promote religious or political doctrines.

What is The San Diego Foundation looking for in funding proposals?

Proposals will be assessed on:

  • Background and organizational track record of serving youth and executing the strategies above
  • Past performance providing outreach to underserved communities and the ability to provide access to activities for underserved students
  • Staff qualifications in designing and implementing enrichment programs for youth
  • Health and safety protocols, including staff to student ratios
  • Proposed methodology and workplan that demonstrates an effective program design to provide access and equitable programs for a variety of underserved communities and San Diego Unified students, in particular:
    • Students from low-income households i.e. households of less than 50% AMI and between 50% and 80% AMI
    • Students who were most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis including but not limited to foster youth, disconnected youth, English Language Learners, students with different learning styles, student identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community, and students from Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander and underrepresented racial and ethnic communities
  • Clear and achievable outcomes for learning and social engagement
  • Ability to provide a seamless connection with the District’s Summer Experience
  • Additional unique and strong features of the program shall include:
    • Programs that prioritize in-person programming
    • Culturally relevant and affirming spaces of learning
    • Multi-generational and/or engage and empower caregivers as educational partners/advocates

What types of programs will be funded?

There are three types of programs you can apply for funding for:

  1. New Program – This is an entirely new design reflecting a 100% increase in capacity to host prioritized San Diego Unified students.
  2. Expanded Program – This is a program that already exists within your organization and will be expanded to create and reserve new spots for prioritized San Diego Unified students.
  3. Current Program – This is an existing program within your organization with reserved spots for prioritized San Diego Unified students.

What program focuses will be considered for funding?

A wide variety of programs will be considered for funding, including:

  • Academic tutoring
  • Exposure to career pathways and paid internships
  • Outdoor nature experiences
  • Performing and musical arts programs
  • Reading and writing experiences
  • Sports and fitness programs
  • STEM and STEAM related experiences
  • Visual and media arts programs

How can grant funds be used?

Grant funds may be used to support staff salaries, supplies, technology needs of staff or participants, personal protective equipment, general operating costs, or any other program costs or needs tied to the effective delivery of programs for students in summer 2021.

Nonprofit community organizations can apply for funding to support:

  • Adapting existing programs to respond to learning acceleration and/or social emotional needs of students
  • Expanding current site-based (or virtual/hybrid) program to receive additional students
  • Expanding an existing program to additional sites
  • Maximizing the number of youth to be served, given increased needs and potentially new or increased service costs
  • Creating new virtual / hybrid programs that reflect the needs of an organization’s cohort of youth (e.g., those who historically came to a community center, or an onsite after-school program)
  • Adapting services and programs typically provided in after-school settings to a summertime format
  • New or adapted models that directly serve students while promoting family and community engagement in learning and social emotional well being

How will this grant benefit students?

This grant opportunities seeks to fund a variety of program types that advance the following strategies:

  • Support student learning to increase or maintain academic progress
  • Prepare students for success in their post-secondary and career pathways
  • Provide opportunities for social-emotional learning and well-being for students
  • Foster the renewal and cultivation of supportive peer relationships
  • Activate our region’s vibrant communities and natural resources as sites of discovery and learning
  • Expose young people to a diversity of mentors, role models and career pathways
  • Celebrate talent and provide opportunities for creative youth development
  • Offer opportunities to engage in sports and other physical activities
  • Provide culturally affirming spaces for students of diverse backgrounds
  • Increase family, caregiver and/or community engagement in student’s well-being and academic preparedness

How can a nonprofit organization apply?

Organizations will be asked to complete an online application. Please direct all questions to summerlearning@sdfoundation.org.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline to submit is April 30, 2021 by 5:00pm (PST). For more information, contact us at summerlearning@sdfoundation.org.

Are there a certain number of hours or days a program is required to run?

There is no set requirement. The frequency and duration of the program model will be taken into consideration when determining grant amounts.

Can an organization partner with other nonprofits?

Yes, nonprofit organizations can partner with other nonprofits, but when applying, there will need to be one main organization that receives the funds and is the main contact. An organization can only apply as the main organization and contact on one application, but can be mentioned as a partner/collaborator more than once.