April 8, 2021 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation today announced a new partnership with San Diego Unified School District that seeks grant proposals from nonprofit organizations to reimagine and enhance the 2021 summer school experience with free afternoon enrichment programs for thousands of students.

Overall, $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. The opportunities will accelerate student learning and support their wellbeing, knowledge and skills through the summer.

The San Diego Foundation will administer and manage the Level Up SD grants program for a summer of student learning and joy. Nonprofit community-based organizations, district-managed schools and municipalities offering summer enrichment programs are encouraged to apply for grants ranging from $10,000 – $500,000 for new, expanded and current programs.

Summer program experiences may include academic tutoring; exposure to career pathways and paid internships; outdoor nature experiences; sports & fitness; STEM and STEAM related; performing and musical arts; visual & media arts; and reading & writing. Programs are for the June – August 2021 timeframe.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities for students. Given the disruption to in person instruction and closure of youth-serving community centers and services, there is an increased need for summertime learning environments to accelerate learning and address the social-emotional needs of youth, especially for those student groups most impacted by COVID-19.   

“This is an example of the San Diego community working together to provide our students with the summer experience they deserve,” shared San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten. “In addition to a robust academic curriculum, students will have the opportunity to engage in enrichment activities of their choosing to complement their school day. We’re excited to partner with The San Diego Foundation and all the incredible nonprofits in the region that can offer a broad spectrum of experiences and memories for our students.”

“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 & 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.”

Level Up SD grants are expected to:

  • Support student learning to increase or maintain academic progress
  • Prepare students for success in their post-secondary and career pathways
  • Provide spaces for social and emotional well-being for students
  • Renew and cultivate supportive peer relationships
  • Activate communities and natural resources as places of discovery and learning
  • Expose students to diverse 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 and nurturing spaces
  • Increase family, caregiver and/or community engagement in student well-being and academic preparedness

Grants can be used for staff salaries, supplies, technology needs of staff or participants, transportation, food, personal protective equipment, general operating costs, or any other program costs or needs for the effective delivery of programs for students.

Beginning Friday, April 9, nonprofits can apply for a Level Up SD grant. Applications must be received by Friday, April 30 by 5pm. Two informational webinars for nonprofit applicants will be offered on April 16 and April 19. To access the grant guidelines, application and webinar registration, visit SDFoundation.org/SummerGrants. Questions can be sent to summerlearning@sdfoundation.org.

Students and families will be informed of afternoon summer enrichment opportunities and the registration process in late April. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in SDUSD for the 2021-2022 school year.

The Level Up SD nonprofit grant program is made possible by the San Diego Unified Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant.

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve quality of life in our region. For more than 45 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen our San Diego community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.

About San Diego Unified School District

With some 100,000 students and approximately 14,000 employees, San Diego Unified School District is California’s second-largest school district. San Diego Unified is a leader among urban districts when it comes to academic performance, equity and financial stability. San Diego Unified has outpaced every other participating urban district in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests. San Diego Unified is a majority-minority district (53 percent Latino and African American) and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all students qualify for subsidized school meals based on family income. San Diego Unified is home to the largest military installation in the nation, creating unique demands on its educational programs, including its Early Learning program. San Diego Unified provides extensive wrap-around services for families.


Theresa Nakata, The San Diego Foundation, theresan@sdfoundation.org
Maureen Magee, San Diego Unified School District, mmagee@sandi.net