Children went back to the classroom in San Diego Unified School District as part of Phase One to help special needs students. The girl is returning to Lafayette Elementary School in Clairemont.
A mother walks with her daughter at Lafayette Elementary School in Clairemont. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Unified School District and The San Diego Foundation announced Wednesday that more than 65 nonprofits will help deliver the newly created Level Up SD program to tens of thousands of San Diego Unified students who will have free access to in-person morning classroom instruction and afternoon summer activities.

Earlier this month, registration began for morning coursework. On Wednesday, registration began for opportunities beyond the classroom at LevelUpSanDiego.org.

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 in San Diego Unified, meaning thousands of local students 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,” SDUSD board Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said at a news conference 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,” she said.

San Diego Unified families will be able to select free programs from organizations 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,” said Carol Dedrich, Girl Scouts San Diego CEO. “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.”

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, students must be enrolled in San Diego Unified for the 2021-2022 school year.

The San Diego Unified Board of Education made a $31 million commitment to the program as part of an effort by the district to help provide area students with a summer of learning and fun to prepare them academically and emotionally for the fall.

The San Diego Foundation, in partnership with San Diego Unified, has so far awarded more than $5.3 million in grants to local nonprofits for programs.

“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 and partnerships officer at 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.”

–City News Service

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