Community organizations and institutions are adapting and expanding summer programs for San Mateo County students following months of closures and isolation due to COVID-19. Modifications to summer schools, camps, and day programs come at a time of increased demand for programming, and an effort by local organizations to address the social, academic, and mental health impacts brought on by the pandemic. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committing $500,000 to support these programs at a critical time for San Mateo County’s kids.

Children and young adults have experienced high levels of anxiety, stress, and grief due to unprecedented challenges over the last year, including schedule disruptions, isolation, changes at home, income loss, and the illness or loss of loved ones.  Summer programs, specifically those focused on communities most impacted by the pandemic, including communities of color, can provide supportive environments that foster reconnection, academic recovery, wellness, and healing.

“Even during a typical year, the Y’s focus each summer is to supplement and close the gaps created by summer breaks from school. When doors close for the summer, challenges emerge, particularly for youth in low-income families, related to learning loss, hunger, health, and safe spaces.” Mary Hoshiko-Haughey, Chief Operating Officer at YMCA of Silicon Valley said, “This summer, the effects of COVID-19 will compound these issues for vulnerable families, and we need to be ready to provide support for more youth and a more intense set of challenges.”

CZI is committing $100,000 grants to support summer programs, focusing on organizations and groups hosting programs that offer a combination of relationship building, physical activity, and academic support, and that are integral to their communities. Summer programs will be following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

  • YMCA of San Francisco: to support expansion of the Power Scholars program for fourth through eighth graders in San Bruno Park School District and Jefferson Elementary School District. The Power Scholars program provides full-day summer camps focused on STEM engagement and fun.
  • The Big Lift: to extend and expand the comprehensive academic summer programming serving approximately 1,100 children entering kindergarten through third grade in San Mateo County. Grant funding will also support additional educators to reduce teacher-student ratios. 
  • YMCA of Silicon Valley: to expand access to summer programming to 400 additional campers at the Y’s eight-week summer camps in East Palo Alto and Redwood City.
  • Boys and Girls Club Peninsula: To provide 1,500 K-12 students in the Ravenswood and Redwood City school districts with access to in-person supercharged summer programs.  CZI’s grant will help to serve more middle schoolers, deepen mental health resources, and offer off-site field trips.
  • City of East Palo Alto: to support the City’s partnership with 14 youth organizations to host an expanded series of summer programs, including dance, gymnastics, basketball, rugby, and day camps for youth.

As local organizations prepare to welcome kids to summer camps and programs, they are adapting programming to meet COVID-19  health and safety guidelines, and to provide additional support to respond to the unique experiences and needs of participants.

“Funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will ensure that residents of East Palo Alto, particularly our youth, have the opportunity to participate in summer enrichment programs,” said Patrick Heisinger, Assistant City Manager of East Palo Alto.  “These experiences will allow for a return to some level of normalcy, as we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“CZI is committed to supporting communities most impacted by the pandemic, including families with young children,” said Andrea Jones, Director of Community Affairs for CZI. “We’re grateful to local organizations for their continuation of such supportive, safe, and treasured programs for kids.”

In addition to $500,000 to support local summer programs, CZI is committing an additional $650,000 to support local libraries, school districts, education foundations, and partners in south San Mateo County, including Redwood City, East Palo Alto, and North Fair Oaks.

Since April 2020, CZI has committed more than $110 million to COVID-19 recovery efforts — worldwide and at the state and local level, including:

  • More than $20 million to support teachers and students impacted by the pandemic, with a focus on communities of color, including grants to help address the digital divide, for teacher professional development, and for the social and mental wellbeing of students and educators.
  • $4.7 million to stand up a new CLIA-certified testing lab — in only eight days — through partnerships with the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, and the University of California, San Francisco.
  • $2 million for Returning Home Well, a joint effort with the State of California, other philanthropies, and nonprofit service providers to provide resources and support for people returning home from prison during COVID-19.
  • More than $12 million to support emergency relief and the long-term response in the San Francisco Bay Area, including expanded health services, remote learning, financial assistance, and small business relief.

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