United Way of Santa Barbara County Delivers Impactful Virtual Fun in the Sun Program in Light of COVID-19

Seven virtual sites are serving students from Carpinteria Unified School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Goleta Union School District, and school districts throughout the Santa Ynez Valley.


Thanks to the generosity of over 50 funding partners and service delivery partners, United Way of Santa Barbara County’s (UWSBC) Fun in the Sun program has the capacity to support up to 350 children and families this year through a virtual format in light of COVID-19. Seven virtual sites are serving students from Carpinteria Unified School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District (4 school sites instead of its usual 2 school sites), Goleta Union School District, and school districts throughout the Santa Ynez Valley.

Through this virtual setting, scholars engage in hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) activities, have access to Fun in the Sun’s signature literacy improvement programs, participate in virtual field trips, and receive all the individualized materials they need for virtual learning on a weekly basis. All scholars received a complete scholar kit the first week of the program which included a bin for all their materials, scissors, glue, art supplies pencils, erasers, and more. Each week thereafter, participant families pick up additional kits that contain materials needed for the week ahead, such as supplies needed for STEAM activities, journals and supplies to decorate them, and other enrichment activities to keep them engaged and learning. In addition, United Way, the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, and No Kid Hungry are partnering to ensure that children are provided with a free, nutritious lunch every day.

Fun in the Sun is a nationally-recognized summer learning program that transforms academically at-risk children — grade 3 through high school — from low-resource neighborhoods into successful, confident students. The learning program, originally designed to address summer learning loss, is especially important with this year’s prolonged school closures.

“We are so appreciative that we can continue to support students and their families through our annual Fun in the Sun program, especially during these difficult times,” said Steve Ortiz, President & CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “It is so important that students have extra learning support to avoid an additional amount of learning loss due to the current pandemic.”

Some of the virtual partnerships and program components being offered to students this year include:

  • Cottage Health is providing pre-recorded video lessons from their doctors to teach students about COVID-19, answer student questions and share how students can take steps to fight COVID-19 through measures like social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing. Cottage Health also prepared videos about mindfulness to help students maintain mental wellness during this time. Lastly, Cottage Health donated pedometers for all students to help them stay physically active and encourage healthy habits.
  • The Assistance League of Santa Barbara provided hundreds of incentive prizes (including gift cards to local businesses) to help ensure students log on for camp every day, complete literacy improvement lessons, and exercise. The Assistance League also provided clothing and swimwear to all participants.
  • Mindfulness Mondays to emphasize mental wellness, particularly during this time of heightened stress and anxiety. Students journal, practice breathing, do yoga, and other activities to express themselves.
  • Procore is providing lessons including a 2D plan drawing activity to help them create their dream house, and a 3D plan drawing activity to help students create their dream city.
  • Performing arts with Garrett Blair where students practice theater and improv to engage with their peers.
  • Art with Louie Regalado where students receive art supplies to make art at home to share.
  • STEAM curriculum provided by the Dunes Center. Students are learning about oceanography, marine life, tides and tide pools, conservation efforts, and more.
  • LogMeIn is providing mental wellness and fitness instructional videos. In addition, their employees are hosting a career panel for Fun in the Sun’s high school-aged Counselors in Training.

“My son is really enjoying the program. From the liquids pH level tests, to Minecraft yoga and social interaction with his peers. We are so grateful for this program, the clothes and extra craft projects,” said one of the parents.

In 2021, United Way expects to offer an in-person Fun in the Sun program at five south Santa Barbara County sites and a brand-new sixth north Santa Barbara County site in Guadalupe. United Way is already developing expanded service delivery partnerships to meet the needs of participating children and families next summer.

For more information about Fun in the Sun, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/fits.

About United Way of Santa Barbara County

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local nonprofit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families and seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health. To learn more, please visit unitedwaysb.org.




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