For Immediate Release

May 26, 2021 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Unified School District and The San Diego Foundation today introduced more than 65 nonprofits that will help deliver the Level Up SD program to tens of thousands of San Diego Unified students with free access to in-person morning classroom instruction and afternoon summer activities. Earlier this month, registration began for morning coursework. Today, registration began for opportunities beyond the classroom at

Summer school generally is offered to a select group of students who need additional academic support. Level Up SD is open to all K-12 students, meaning thousands of local students from every corner of our community can now take advantage of summer school and free activities like learning to kayak or learning to fly a drone for the first time.

“I’ve embraced Level Up SD because of its focus on and commitment to equity,” said School Board Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne from a Level Up SD news conference held at the Elementary Institute of Science (one of the participating nonprofits) in Southeast San Diego. “A broad and diverse range of nonprofits was selected to make sure all our students receive equal opportunities, and we have ensured that students who need these programs the most are at the front of the line.”

San Diego Unified families are selecting free programs from some of the most sought-after organizations in San Diego, including Girls Scouts San Diego, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, Junior Achievement of San Diego, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, Elementary Institute of Science, YMCA, and La Jolla Playhouse. 

“Many people associate Girl Scouts with Thin Mints and Samoas and while it’s true our cookie sales help us raise revenue we need to run our programs, Girl Scouts is so much more. We help grow tomorrow’s leaders. We inspire, encourage and challenge girls of all ages, and the Level Up SD grant gives us the capacity to reach more girls and grow more leaders. We are extremely grateful, and we’re looking forward to an exceptional and memorable summer of learning and joy,” Girl Scouts San Diego CEO Carol Dedrich said from the news conference.

Level Up SD’s morning classroom and afternoon enrichment sessions are free to all families and begin June 21, the official first day of summer. To be eligible for #LevelUpSD, students must be enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-2022 school year.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and worsened 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.

Level Up SD was created this year by the San Diego Unified School District and The San Diego Foundation thanks to a $31 million commitment by the San Diego Unified Board of Education. Level Up SD is part of a comprehensive effort by San Diego Unified to help provide area students with a summer of learning and joy to prepare them academically and emotionally for the fall.

Earlier this month, San Diego Unified opened online registration for families wishing to register children for in-person morning instruction with local teachers at neighborhood schools.

Already, 20,000 students have signed up for the instructional opportunities with San Diego Unified teachers, and even more are expected to participate in the free summer activities and opportunities beyond the classroom hosted by more than 65 local nonprofits. Presently, Level Up SD has created 10,000 openings for summer activities. That number will grow as more nonprofits are awarded Level Up SD grants.

The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with San Diego Unified, has so far awarded more than $5.3 million in grants to local nonprofits to offer students a summer of learning and joy and opportunities to level up.

“We are inspired by the commitment our local nonprofit community has made to San Diego Unified students for free, fun and enriching summer programs,” said Pamela Gray Payton, Chief Impact & Partnerships Officer of The San Diego Foundation. “Level Up SD will provide equitable opportunities to help every child flourish for the coming school year. It will change the learning landscape for future summers of learning and joy.”

The nonprofits* registering students for free summer programs include: 

  1. A Reason to Survive – Arts Summer Camps
  2. Athenaeum Arts Center – 6 Foot Books 
  3. Banyan Tree Educational Services – Power-Up Summer Academy 
  4. Barrio Logan College Institute – Summer Kick-Start Program
  5. Bayside Community Center – Garden Therapy in Linda Vista 
  6. Birch Aquarium at Scripps – Ocean Connections Camp 
  7. Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego – Summer Camp 2021 
  8. Cesar Chavez Service Clubs – Summer Enrichment Program 
  9. City Ballet – Discover a Dancer
  10. Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach & Urban Development (DETOUR) – FANCY Ambassador Program 
  11. Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership (DEEP) – Summer Readers-Future Leaders 
  12. Diversionary Theatre Productions, Inc. – Teen-Versionary 
  13. Elementary Institute of Science – Science Summer Camp & FIRE Up! 
  14. Fern Street Community Arts, Inc. – After-School Summer Circus Program
  15. First Gen Scholars – College Prep Program
  16. Fleet Science Center – Science Summer Camps 
  17. Girl Scouts San Diego – Outreach Summer Learning Discovery 
  18. Girls Inc. of San Diego County – She Leads 
  19. Girls on the Run San Diego – Camp GOTR 
  20. Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek — Passport to Success: Summer of Discovery
  21. Guitars in the Classroom – Summer Strummers 
  22. Harmonium, Inc. – Klassic Kids 
  23. Heartbeat Music Academy – Summer Drumline & Dance Camp
  24. International Rescue Committee – Summer REACH-4-Success 
  25. Junior Achievement of San Diego County – Summer Experiences 
  26. Karen Organization of San Diego – Summer STREAM 
  27. Lawrence Family Jewish Community Centers of San Diego – Camp Jaycee 
  28. La Jolla Playhouse – Devised Theatre Camp 
  29. Living Coast Discovery Center – Wildlife Day Camps 
  30. MAKE Projects — Summer Expansion Program
  31. Media Arts Center San Diego – Teen Producers Project 
  32. Mid-City CAN — Youth Council
  33. Movement BE (Brave Entrepreneur) – Summer Literacy Program 
  34. North Coast Repertory Theatre = Summer Theatre & Performance Camp
  35. Ocean Discovery Institute – Ocean Adventurers Camp 
  36. Outdoor Outreach – Summer Adventures Youth Camp 
  37. Outside the Lens – Summer Camp
  38. Reality Changers – Robots, Drones & AI – Oh My! – Entrepreneurship in the City – College Apps Bootcamp & Essay Writing 
  39. Salk Institute for Biological Studies – Salk Intro to Research Science & Communication
  40. Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center – Exploring the Magic of the Philippines
  41. San Diego Air & Space Museum – Aerospace Adventures 
  42. San Diego Armed Services YMCA – Camp Hero
  43. San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Inc. 
  44. San Diego Coffee Training Institute – Young Baristas Summer Training
  45. San Diego History Center – Summer Camp
  46. San Diego Junior Theatre – Acting Up with Junior Theatre — Summer Camp Experience
  47. San Diego LGBT Community Center – Summer Expedition for LGBTQ Youth 
  48. San Diego Natural History Museum — I’m an Ologist Nature Experience
  49. San Diego State University Research Foundation – Sustainable Leadership Academy 
  50. San Diego Winds – San Diego Summer Music Institute
  51. San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory – Summer Music Enrichment 
  52. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance – Wildlife Conservation Camp
  53. SBCS (South Bay Community Services) – Camp Promise 
  54. Synergy Foundation, Inc. — Summer of Learning & Joy
  55. Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego, Inc. – Teen Leadership Connections Camp 
  56. The Blue Heart Foundation – Summer Academy 
  57. The David’s Harp Foundation, Inc. – Student Recording Studio 
  58. Trinity One Theatre Troupe — Arts Education Summer Experience
  59. transenDANCE – Holistic Summer Program 
  60. UC San Diego – OFFERS – Opportunities for Future Engineers, Researchers & Scientists
  61. United Women of East Africa – East African Summer Enrichment Program
  62. University of San Diego – Rising Stars
  63. YMCA of San Diego County – Day Camp
  64. Youth Empowerments Finest – I.M.A.G.I.N.E. (Inspirational Mentoring Agents Generating Incredible Nourishment & Empowerment)
  65. Youth Tennis San Diego

*More nonprofits are being added to Level Up SD.

About Level Up SD

Created this year by the San Diego Unified School District and The San Diego Foundation, 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 summer activities offered by dozens of nonprofits in communities across the city. There is no cost to families for the classroom instruction or the activities, thanks to a $31 million commitment by the San Diego Unified Board of Education. To be eligible for #LevelUpSD, students must be enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-2022 school year.

Summer school generally is offered to a select group of struggling students. Level Up SD is open to all K-12 students. This means thousands of kids from every corner of our community can now take advantage of academics and free activities beyond the classroom, like learning to kayak or learning to fly a drone, for the first time

About The San Diego Foundation

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

About San Diego Unified School District

The second largest school system in the State of California and fastest improving school district in the nation, San Diego Unified students have earned a reputation for hard work and achievement. This success was recently recognized when President Biden selected San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten to serve as his Deputy Secretary of Education. Despite the national recognition, San Diego Unified remains firmly rooted in the communities it serves. “Our schools make San Diego a better place” is more than a slogan. It is a systemwide commitment to San Diego’s “City of Villages” growth strategy, where every neighborhood is home to a high-quality public school. To learn more, follow #BetterSD and visit


Tony Manolatos, Manolatos Public Affairs,, 619-549-0137
Maureen Magee, San Diego Unified School District,
Theresa Nakata, The San Diego Foundation,