books and cubbies in classroom
Books and students in a Glenview Elementary School classroom on the first day of in-person learning. Credit: Oakland Unified School District

With about six weeks left in the school year, families may be looking for ways to keep their kids engaged in learning during the summer months. The Oaklandside previously put together a list of free tutoring programs you can enroll in right now—but for those looking ahead, here’s a list of free summer programs with an academic focus, for students of all ages. 

Aim High will offer a virtual five-week program this summer called Aim High At Home. Bay Area middle schoolers entering sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade who are from low-income families or live in underserved communities are eligible for the program, which includes academic classes, electives, and cultural activities like yoga and meditation. Applications are still being accepted and the program runs from June 28 to July 30. 

The East Oakland Youth Development Center will be offering its Summer Cultural Enrichment Program from June 21 to July 29. The youth-led program enrolls students between 6 and 12 years old, and it will be in person. Students take science, technology, engineering math, art, English, dance, and wellness classes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The registration fee is being waived this year, but families will have to demonstrate financial need. Although a fire last week damaged the building’s entryway, the community center is completely operational. Families who are interested can email or

Girls Inc. of Alameda County offers several summer programs for girls between first and 12th grade, all of which will be virtual. The Concordia Park camp, for students in first to seventh grade, will be from June 21 to July 16. Families can opt for morning virtual camp, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., or the afternoon session from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students will learn science, technology, engineering, and math concepts, and participate in physical activities. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis, and camp fees are waived this summer. Applications are available in English and Spanish

Girls Inc. of Alameda County is also accepting applications from rising eighth graders for its Eureka summer program, which continues each year through 12th grade. Students receive academic support, college preparation, leadership training, and paid internships. Applications will be accepted until Friday, April 23.   

Girls Inc. of Alameda County’s Summer Leadership Institute is for girls in high school to develop their leadership skills in a virtual setting. Applicants can choose between two programs, Youth for Health & Justice, which focuses on reproductive health inequities, or Youth Lead Now, which focuses on civic engagement and political advocacy. The program runs from June 21 to July 16. At the completion of the program and summer project, participants will receive a $75 stipend. Applications are due June 11.

Ignite! Summer Reading Program is a brand new reading program aimed at kindergarten to second grade students from low-income families, or who attend Title I schools in Oakland. Students in the program are paired with individual tutors to help them improve their reading skills. Tutoring sessions will be 30 minutes a day, five days a week, from June 7 to August 6. Applications are available in English and Spanish, and families will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

Oakland Freedom Schools summer program provides literacy and academic enrichment for Oakland students in all grades from low-income backgrounds. This year it runs from June 7 to July 2, and students will also learn about social justice and nutrition during the six-week virtual program. Families can register online, and must complete a separate form for each student.

SMASH Academy is a summer college prep program accepting rising ninth graders for a three-year summer program focused on science, technology, engineering, math, and college prep. This year’s program will be virtual, in partnership with UC Berkeley. SMASH Berkeley will last from July 5 to Aug. 4. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA, strong math skills, and attend a local public high school or private school on scholarship. The program is aimed at groups that are typically underrepresented in STEM fields, first-generation college students, or those from low-income backgrounds. Applications will be available soon.

Ashley McBride writes about education equity for The Oaklandside. Her work covers Oakland’s public district and charter schools. Before joining The Oaklandside in 2020, Ashley was a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle as a Hearst Journalism Fellow, and has held positions at the Poynter Institute and the Palm Beach Post. Ashley earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.