For Immediate Release
June 21, 2021 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Unified School District, The San Diego Foundation, and more than 70 local nonprofits began serving approximately 30,000 students today – a 1,500% increase over a typical summer – who enrolled in Level Up SD, a Summer of Learning and Joy.
“Summer starts here and thanks to Level Up SD this will be a summer like no other for thousands of San Diego Unified students,” San Diego Unified Board President Richard Barrera said today from a Level Up SD morning news conference at the completely renovated Wilson Middle School in City Heights.
Barrera and other community leaders gathered today – the first official day of summer – at Wilson to highlight the new summer programs that have attracted students and nonprofits from across the city. Wilson is one of dozens of San Diego Unified schools hosting students enrolled in Level Up SD, which offers free in-person morning classroom instruction and a wide variety of afternoon summer activities.
“The new campus at Wilson Middle School is a great example of what can be done with community support, and Level Up SD is a great example of what can be done for San Diego Unified students with school district support,” Wilson Middle School Principal David Downey said.
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 are taking advantage of summer school and free activities like learning to play guitar or learning to fly a drone for the first time.
At Wilson, the nonprofit organizations hosting summer programs include Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, Reality Changers, and San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory Summer Sights & Sounds. This is in addition to the teacher-led morning instruction at Wilson.
“Level Up SD will provide a big boost to students in so many ways,” said Paula Richardson, a Wilson Middle School teacher, and 2020 Middle School Teacher of the Year in both the district and the county. “In addition to the academic support in the mornings, the afternoon summer experiences give students the opportunity to have some fun and pursue what interests them, and everyone learns better when they enjoy what they’re learning.”
For the past month, San Diego Unified families registered for free Level Up SD programs with some of the most sought-after organizations in the city, 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.
“We are excited to launch our ‘Summer Sights & Sounds in City Heights’ program in collaboration with Wilson Middle School and other area nonprofits and reconnecting with young musicians and artists in our community,” said Dr. Michael Remson, President and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. “This past year has been such a disruption to their lives and we are grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate our students’ music-making and art this summer.”
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.
The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with San Diego Unified, awarded more than $6.7 million in grants to local nonprofits to offer students a summer of learning and joy and opportunities to level up.
“Our nonprofit partners have done a tremendous amount of work to design experiences that will enrich children’s lives this summer, as well as recover from this difficult year,” said Pamela Gray Payton, Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer, of The San Diego Foundation. “Level Up SD will provide equitable opportunities to help children flourish for the coming school year. It will change the learning landscape for future summers of learning and joy.”
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 San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve quality of life for all people and all partners 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 to create just, equitable and resilient communities throughout the San Diego region. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.
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 sandiegounified.org.
Tony Manolatos, Manolatos Public Affairs, email@example.com, (619) 549-0137
Mike Murad, San Diego Unified School District, firstname.lastname@example.org, (619) 925-4790
Lorena Ruggero, The San Diego Foundation, email@example.com, (619) 814-1365