United Way Partners With Housing Authority For United Learning Center – Grad Academy

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWBSC) partners with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) for United Learning Center – GRAD Academy. This partnership will transition students who previously attended the Housing Authority’s GRAD Academy after school program to United Way’s long standing United Learning Center programming.

After operating an after-school learning center for nearly twenty years, the Housing Authority’s original GRAD (Growth, Readiness and Development) Academy services became considerably impacted by COVID-19. Given the importance of the HACSB’s after-school center operations, particularly at a time when students are facing substantial learning loss, HACSB knew it would be best to partner with a local organization specializing in serving youth for the administration of continuing their program. Based on their existing United Learning Center, UWSBC was selected as the most suitable applicant with their curriculum and experience in literacy development and small group instruction.

The United Way’s United Learning Center is a known successful program with the main classroom at the United Way facility and satellite classrooms at local schools and other locations. Through small group tutoring in reading and writing, students and instructors work together on personalized lesson plans developed by a credentialed teacher. The focus is on “whole child success” achieved through data driven instruction and a robust enrichment curriculum developed to engage learners at all levels. Students that attend the United Learning Center gain an average of 2 grade levels in their literacy skills working in 12 week cohorts.

“During this time, it is extremely important that students have additional educational support to prevent even greater learning loss as a result of the pandemic,” said Steve Ortiz, CEO of UWSBC. “We are honored to partner with the HACSB‘s GRAD Academy and we look forward to seeing successful outcomes for years to come.”

“With their proven track record, we have 100% confidence in the UWSBC’s ability to continue powerful educational support for local students through this collaboration,” said Rob Fredericks, CEO of HACSB, adding “stable affordable housing coupled with educational opportunities are foundational to the success of our resident youth.”

UWSBC and HACSB would like to recognize the Assistance League (AL) of Santa Barbara as key partners in the program. The AL has been working with the HACSB since the afterschool program began twenty years ago. They are committed to supporting local students in their academics and will work with UWSBC in this new partnership with HASCB.

The United Learning Center – GRAD Academy will launch on September 7, 2021, and enrollment is currently underway. To learn more, visit


About United Way of Santa Barbara County

Since 1923, United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has been a key leader in local efforts to empower children, families, and communities through its own unique collaborative programs and initiatives, partnership convening efforts, volunteer development, and funding. UWSBC’s mission is to enrich the lives of children and families and build resilient communities by leading local programs and partnerships that improve school readiness and academic achievement, financial empowerment, and crisis response and recovery. To learn more, please visit


About Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara

The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara is a local public agency created for the purpose of providing safe, decent, and quality affordable housing and supportive services to eligible persons with limited incomes, through a variety of federal, state, local and private resources. Since 1969, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara has developed and/or secured over 4,000 units of affordable rental housing for Santa Barbara through a variety of federal, state, local and private funding sources. Please visit the website at

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