How kids spend their summer matters

PACF supports organizations helping to close the summer equity gap

With as many as 40 percent of households in the Bay Area headed by single parents, and over 5 percent of youths in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties living in poverty, finding affordable summer opportunities for children is challenging. For families struggling with limited time and resources, summer enrichment for kids is expensive and essential.

Palo Alto Community Fund (PACF) is proud to support local organizations that offer a variety of enriching programs for youth. Staying engaged in meaningful learning experiences throughout the summer has become even more essential given the significant learning loss during COVID-19 resulting from remote and interrupted study. Many of these summer offerings are available free of cost, and provide access to a wide range of activities: academic tutoring, swim lessons, arts and crafts, cultural heritage, dance, hiking, cooking, sports, community service — and pure play! These programs help foster social relationships along with developing valuable skills.

A range of summer support for kids and youth

Anamatangi Polynesian Voices, based in East Palo Alto, is committed to serving the local Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community through heritage preservation and civic and inter-generational engagement.

PACF is thrilled to have helped facilitate a partnership between Anamatangi and EPACENTER to help the Anamatangi summer camp youth and elders find space to celebrate the joy of their cultural heritage, learning through singing, dancing, drumming, outrigger canoeing, practicing traditional healing arts, and learning about climate change. Part of the magic is sharing experiences with and learning from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander elders. The summer camp took place at two PACF Grantee locations: EPACENTER and Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP), where their culminating performance was under the spotlight as part of the BGCP Summer Showcase.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) is dedicated to empowering the youth in our community. BGCP provides numerous summer offerings, including K-8 programs for academic skill building, art programs, STEAM, the Barry Carr Sports Leagues for kids to learn life skills and have fun playing sports, and high school/post-secondary programs for student engagement and enrichment via club activities (graphic design, culinary, etc.).

The Circuit EPA is an East Palo Alto-based nonprofit centered on technology education and youth development. Their mission is focused on addressing inequities and access to high-quality STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) opportunities in and out of school time.

Innovation for everyone

StreetCode Academy offers a fun variety of enriching summer programming. Through an emphasis on coding, web design, and game development, StreetCode keeps students learning by removing a major barrier to the tech world in Silicon Valley.

They currently offer a weekly open lab for all ages to experience virtual and augmented reality.

A safe place to play

CoolineKids was founded by middle schooler, Christian Sbragia, in 2013 Christian Sbragia, in 2013 to empower and equip young leaders of color, focused on East Palo Alto youth. CoolineKids provides children with a safe place to play and offers free play-based summer camps for young children in East Palo Alto.

Activities range from science and engineering to cooking, sports, and even photography. Their program model is centered on using each activity to teach kids communication, creativity, compassion, and collaboration.

DreamCatchers offers summer tutoring opportunities for middle school students to gain academic skills and self-confidence while engaging with their peers. During the summer, they offer summer school activities as well as a two-week swim program.

Creative time in the summer

EPACENTER is a state-of-the-art creative youth development center in East Palo Alto that is all about amplifying the creative potential in young people, and accelerating positive outcomes for vulnerable youth in the city. Programs are led by professional artists and designers and are available all year round. They offer a wide array of summer programs and actively collaborate with other local nonprofit organizations in service of their mission.

Tutoring and Tennis

EPATT, East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring is a wonderful academic support program dedicated to helping students graduate from high school and college and get career ready. Run by caring staff, tutors, and parents that function as a coordinated team, their multifaceted program is designed so that every student enrolled in their program receives the appropriate attention and care.

EPATT has been transforming the lives of kindergarteners through post-secondary students for the past 35 years.

Fun and emotional support for children touched by cancer

Camp Kesem at Stanford offers an extraordinary summer program for children dealing with the trauma of cancer in their family. Their programs allow kids to bond with peers going through similar experiences. Founded in 2000 as a project at Stanford University, Kesem offers year-round services that support both children and adults.

A chance to be regular kids for those with special needs

Families with special needs children have a particularly difficult time during the summer. There are few opportunities for outdoor enrichment and socialization. The care for these children requires a high staff-to-child ratio. Via Services has been serving the Bay Area since 1945. Every summer, they host Camp Via West, a collection of exceptional summer programs that take place on a beautiful 13.5-acre campus in the Cupertino foothills. They offer camp experiences for children, teens, and adults with excellent camper-to-staff ratios of 3:1, 2:1, and 1:1.

Altitude at Camp Via West provides a unique camp experience for youth in middle and high school. Altitude caters to students and teens that possess social cognitive challenges (such as autism and ADHD). Opportunities to build social skills, independence, and self-confidence help prepare campers for the transition to young adulthood.

Camping and outdoor education for kids

Vida Verde provides camping trips for over 12,500 students and teachers from low-income Bay Area schools. Their summer Leadership Project serves teens with a one-week immersive camping trip, followed by the opportunity for leadership and engagement throughout the school year. For some children, this is their only exposure to camping and to environmental education.

A summer of service opportunity for teens

Youth Community Service (YCS) hosts a mentorship program for teens to engage in community leadership and civic service. Bay Area high school students are encouraged to apply and be part of one of six “Summer of Service Together” tracks that leave a lasting impact and prepare students’ for life, higher ed, and beyond.


You can make a difference. A donation to PACF supports the many organizations in our community that provide equitable access to both summer and out-of-school time learning opportunities. We hope you will help us fuel this ecosystem of small, stalwart, and innovative nonprofits in our community by making a contribution today.