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SF Launches Free Summer Programming for Public School Students

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Yesterday Mayor London N. Breed, Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews, and community organization TogetherSF announced the launch of the Summer Together Initiative, a newly formed coalition of San Francisco community organizations, nonprofits, businesses, San Francisco Unified School District, and City departments partnering to offer a combination of free in-person and virtual learning experiences for public school students this summer.

Here is the full press release:

After nearly a year of not being in the classroom, San Francisco’s public school students have fallen behind academically and emotionally. Mental health experts report that children of all ages are experiencing severe social, emotional, and mental health issue such as depression and anxiety. These learning and wellness issues are significantly magnified in African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, low-income, and English Language Learner children and families. Summer Together aims to help San Francisco students impacted by learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic engage in meaningful, fun, and academic integrated programming and experiences. The program aims to serve all SFUSD students with a focus on supporting the City’s highest need students and families. In addition to public resources, this initiative is backed by a $25 million philanthropic gift from Crankstart.

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TogetherSF, a community organization, will be providing administrative and operational support for the Summer Together Initiative. All programming will be fully-funded through a public-private partnership between the City of San Francisco and philanthropic support. In addition to Crankstart’s financial support, other businesses can also provide both monetary and non-monetary support, like food or physical space for learning programs via Give2SF.

“Our children have truly suffered during this pandemic, and we need to do everything we can to make up for lost time,” said Mayor Breed. “Summer Together will support their mental health, their academic needs, and just get them to be back together with other children again. Our Community Hubs have shown what we can do to safely support our kids, and I’m so excited that this summer we will be able to expand not only that model, but offer our students other in-person and virtual opportunities to learn as well. This partnership between the City, the School District, and TogetherSF shows what we can do when we all work together to do what’s best for our city and our young people.

“Through our work organizing thousands of volunteers to support San Francisco families during the pandemic, we have seen firsthand how many students urgently need support,” said Griffin Gaffney, Co-founder of Together SF. “That’s why we helped organize a coalition to launch Summer Together—a program that will offer free, in-person learning opportunities to help get San Francisco’s students back on track.”

Maria Su, who leads San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF) and has overseen in-person Community Hubs for thousands of children during the pandemic, is confident in Summer Together’s approach. “I believe this comprehensive strategy promotes and enhances the summer learning activities for our City’s children and youth from their homes, schools, camps, libraries and neighborhood programs. Through this citywide initiative, our City continues to put our children and youth first and support families as they combat the devastating impacts of this past year,” said Maria Su.

“It has never been more clear that we must work together as a community to care for the needs of our City’s children. Summer learning and socializing plays a critical role in the lives of young people. This summer, we look forward to joining with the City to offer multiple programs for children and youth of all ages,” said Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews.

This year the City’s summer offerings will focus on continuity of learning and will expand beyond traditional programs to include curriculum to combat learning loss, ensure credit recovery for high school students, and provide comprehensive support for families. Each individual family will be offered a range of supports for their children from free summer reading books easily picked up at any San Francisco Public Library to a full day of in-person learning at school sites, Community Hubs, or Recreation and Park Camps.

Summer Together will offer free learning opportunities that include:

Academic In-Person Learning. Programming will be hosted at Public School buildings and private commercial spaces, facilitated by DCYF’s Community Hubs and the San Francisco Unified School District’s summer school program.

In-Person Summer Camp. Scholarships will be provided for students to attend summer camp with San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department and a variety of community based organizations and private camps.

Educator-Staffed Opportunities. Virtual learning opportunities from public and private organizations will be available, as well as short-duration, in-person support opportunities such as mental health counseling.

Independent learning. All San Francisco Unified School District students will be eligible for ten summer reading books, to be distributed by the San Francisco Public Library.

DCYF has brought together partners from across the City to offer a diverse array of learning options that will be available to all San Francisco public school students. TogetherSF will mobilize San Francisco resident volunteers to reach out to all eligible students and their families to support enrollment into the program. Students will be eligible for programming starting on June 14, 2021.

“The Summer Together program is exactly what our kids deserve—top notch educational and enrichment opportunities that make learning fun again,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “This year has taught us that the public school system plays many essential roles in our society and we must nurture, prioritize, and adequately fund it if our kids are to get the education they deserve. I’m looking forward to partnerships like this one for many years to come.”

“This pandemic will have traumatic, long-lasting impacts on our young people so this summer must be made memorable in a positive way,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar. “Summer programming will allow our students to reconnect with peers, re-establish the fun in learning, and re-energize them before the school year begins. I am proud of the synergy between the Mayor, the Board, the School District, Departments, community, and private donors. After a “terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad year,” it’s time to come together, uplift our families, and bring some joy into their lives. This initiative will help us strengthen our school communities and help them come back stronger.”

“‘Summer Together’ is the multi-pronged approach needed to truly address the drastic learning decline that so many of our students have faced during this global pandemic,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai. “Moreover, the rise of suicide, anxiety, sense of loneliness and isolation currently being faced by our students has been glossed-over and barely talked about. Academic achievement and learning lose has permeated the headlines. Summer Together appears to be the solution that will address both issues with a touch of recreation and fun for children. As the supervisor with the highest number of SFUSD students, I want to thank Mayor Breed and Superintendent Matthews for launching ‘Summer Together.’ This program will be well received in San Francisco and particularly my district.”

“The children of San Francisco have suffered tremendously during the last year, and we owe it to them to make up that lost time,” said Supervisor Catherine Stefani. “Their physical health, emotional well-being, and educational achievement will be permanently harmed without the kind of drastic intervention this programming will provide. Thanks to the generosity, foresight, and leadership of TogetherSF, our students will have the opportunity to make incredible strides this summer.”

To find out more information, go to summertogether.org.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife (not so much nightlife anymore).

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