Since 1997, United Way of Santa Barbara County has provided Fun in the Sun, a national award-winning summer learning collaborative program involving 80 service delivery partners, 20+ funding partners, and over 600 volunteers. Originally designed to address summer learning loss, FITS has expanded its academic curriculum and services to position itself as a holistic space to support students and their families throughout the summer. Enriched with a robust mindfulness program, STEAM activities, mentorship opportunities, environmental education, and field trips, the program offers hundreds of students and families throughout the community with an enriching summer experience.
2023 Program Dates:
Mary Buren Elementary: June 12th - July 21st, 2023
Santa Ynez Elementary: June 19th - July 28th, 2023
Hollister Elementary: June 19th - July 28th, 2023
Aliso Elementary: June 19th - July 28th, 2023
Franklin Elementary: June 20th - 28th, 2023
McKinley Elementary: June 20th - July 28th 2023
Apply for the 2023 Fun in the Sun program:
Apply for the 2023 Leaders-in-Training (formerly CIT) program:
Fun in the Sun 2023 Employment Opportunities:
Volunteer with Lunch Bunch!
As part of United Way's Fun in the Sun program, we offer an hour-long volunteer opportunity for community members called "Lunch Bunch." Lunch Bunch gives volunteers an opportunity to play games and interact with students in the program, fostering positive adult engagement for the kids and giving volunteers the opportunity to mentor students and share about their lives and career.
2023 Fun in the Sun Program Video
2022 | Program Services
Expression through Arts
Family Fun Nights
Financial Literacy Training
Free Health Services
Free Lunch & Snack Daily
Mindfulness Curriculum & Activities
Nutrition & Health Education
Parent Education Seminars
Self-Esteem Building Activities
Sun Safety Education
2022 | Results
Why Fun in the Sun?
Local data suggests that parents of students eligible for the Fun in the Sum summer program work on average, 2.2 jobs each. As school lets out for the summer, many parents from low-resource communities struggle to balance an intense workload and lack of resources with the needs of their children. Despite best efforts, many of these children spend the summer alone, without access to learning tools and basic needs that are offered during the traditional school year, like reading help and daily meals and snacks. These students are at the highest risk for summer learning loss, a major contributor to the achievement gap between students from low and high-income households.
Fun in the Sun provides students and their families with unique and engaging learning experiences to reduce and reverse summer learning loss and narrow the achievement gap, ensuring academic success during the school year and beyond.
"Families were facing a crisis."
"It was incredibly difficult. Families were facing a crisis. Fun in the Sun for many of our families has been a gift. Our students were able to learn skills such as bike riding. While it helped them with the skills of riding bikes, it also helped them with their confidence, which is so vital during this time. What we're noticing is that the students who participate in the Fun in the Sun program are having very little problems returning back to school."
--Dr. Emilio Handall, Superintendent, Guadalupe School District
"Our daughter was always so engaged and learned new things while attending virtually! We truly appreciate everyone that took part in order to produce such a great alternative to the in-person summer program!"
--FITS 2020 Virtual Session Parent
"After engaging in consistent mindfulness programming for six weeks, students seemed more in tune with their emotions, especially anger and frustration. We saw more conversations between students, more honesty, and a willingness to resolve conflict."
Melinda Cabrera, Vice President, Strategic Partnership, United Way of Santa Barbara County
"I was so so impressed with Fun in the Sun! The staff are exceptionally friendly, knowledgeable, and organized. Adrian enjoys attending every day and I was so happy he got an eye exam and free goodies for dental/travel care. We were so blessed to get the opportunity to be part of the program and that Adrian had a safe place to be in the summer."
-Parent of 2021 Participant
Service Delivery Partners | Fun in the Sun 2023
College School District
Carpinteria Unified School District
Goleta Union School District
Guadalupe Union School District
Santa Barbara Unified School District
Solvang School District
Alisal River Course
Allan Hancock College
Assistance League of Santa Barbara County
Art with Louie
Bank of California
Carpinteria Community Pool
Goleta Valley Library
Kid's Farmers Market
Lost Art of Love Letters
Montecito Bank & Trust
Montecito Family YMCA
MOXI - The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
Montecito Union School - Nature Lab
NASA Globe Program
One Cool Earth
Santa Barbara Public Library
Santa Maria Library
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara
Santa Maria Humane Society
Stuart C. Gildred YMCA
Santa Ynez Therapeutic Riding
UC Santa Barbara
Yoga with Kimberly
Youth Arts Alive