Summer Program Updates

Jun 19, 2020

Dear Neighborhood Center Families and Supporters,

I am writing today with updates on our youth and community programs, which continue to serve families and neighbors during these unprecedented times. Recent weeks have been especially difficult, and our team is working on a plan to take strong anti-racist action as an organization. We will be sharing this plan with the community as we implement it.

In the meantime, I want to be sure to take some time to highlight our team’s passion and creativity.

Free Summer Programs

This summer, we’ve waived fees in order to remove as many barriers to our youth programs as possible. Our free virtual summer programs for elementary, middle and high school students started last week, and our team has put together lots of engaging and creative activities. We are mindful that extended screen time can be a challenge these days, and have worked to create programs that find a balance between virtual and hands-on activities.

Over 150 elementary school campers have been taking part in interactive team-building games, creating new worlds and characters with arts and crafts, telling stories using digital tools, and many more daily activities. Each week, campers pick up supply boxes packed with all the materials needed to engage in creative activities at home. STEAM campers have explored plant and insect life, erupted volcanoes, learned about video game design and started coding their own video game. Art campers have dabbled in sketching, drawing, watercolor painting, jewelry making, and made DIY dolls.

To augment their virtual programming, our middle school Camp Beacon leaders have been curating boxes full of 4-5 new activities each week for 140 campers. Packages have included a Stranger Things-themed mystery, snacks from across the world, mindfulness meditations, and outdoor activities complete with healthy fuel and gear, with much more to come.

Our high school summer programs have been very popular, with offerings including Leaders of Color in Training focusing on racial equity in STEM, Freshman Leadership Institute helping rising 9th graders prepare for high school, multiple programs to help students improve their math skills, and an English language learner program. These programs were created to foster academic preparedness and leadership development, and we’re excited to have so many enthusiastic participants this summer.


I’m incredibly proud of all our youth program staff and student participants who have risen to meet this year’s unprecedented challenges. Our staff made sure that our participants of all grade levels, whether they’re completing high school or moving on to their next adventure with us, had a graduation filled with joy and warmth.

Every school site did something unique: some hosted special virtual events for students and their friends, others built socially-distanced photo booths for students to use when they returned to campus to gather their belongings, and some even delivered home graduation packages with school-spirit gear.

Expanding Food Security Services

We are now delivering 50 hot meals each week to vulnerable Richmond District residents, in addition to our three weekly food pantries. Our programs are serving nearly 1,000 of our neighbors, and we’re making home deliveries to all of our participants over the age of 65. Thanks to donations from the community, we’ve also been able to distribute hundreds of reusable cloth masks to our participants.

Once again, I want to thank all of you who have shown your support over these last few months, and particularly the last three weeks. Our community is strongest when it sticks together.


Michelle Cusano
Executive Director