United Way’s Fun in the Sun Program Opens Enrollment for Summer

By Giving List Staff   |   March 28, 2023

Comprehensive free enrichment summer program supports hundreds of Santa Barbara children

Enrollment is now open for United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun — a free six-week summer learning program that provides academic and reading practice, hands-on STEAM activities, field trips and other enrichment activities for more than 400 current 2nd-5th graders.

This year’s program will continue at all six sites in Santa Barbara County, including Franklin Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Hollister Elementary and Aliso Elementary in South County. Santa Ynez Elementary and Mary Buren Elementary will serve students in North County. 

Fun in the Sun is a national award-winning summer learning program involving 80 service delivery partners, over 38 funding partners, and more than 600 volunteers. Originally designed to address summer learning loss, Fun in the Sun has expanded its academic curriculum and services to position itself as a comprehensive space to support students and their families throughout the summer. Students who participate in the program qualify for the federal free/reduced lunch program and are referred to the program from local districts and educators. 

The 2023 program will continue to provide its full spectrum of services, including literacy and academics; community support and engagement; STEAM activities and fields trips; and emotional wellness and enrichment activities. The program runs Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and provides snacks, breakfast and lunch for all students.

The largest site will operate at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe. That’s where 104 elementary-aged students and up to 16 Leaders-In-Training will participate in Fun in the Sun, doubling last year’s enrollment.  District representatives and educators within Guadalupe Union School District have noted that the Fun in the Sun program in this region is currently filling an important need for summer programming for North County students. United Way looks forward to expanding this partnership to better support Guadalupe Union students in meeting academic milestones and benchmarks. 

This year, United Way will expand its STEAM curriculum through a new partnership with NASA. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in the GLOBE Goes to Camp program, which helps students explore nature while fostering environmental stewardship and scientific literacy. Program staff will lead participants through scientific investigations curated by NASA scientists.

Kids will also receive hands-on experience through field trips, including a visit to a local pier where students will receive instruction and fishing practice with a local professional fisher. 

Results from recent program years show a 100% success rate in achieving the Fun in the Sun’s primary outcome of maintaining or displaying gains in student reading comprehension, phonics, and/or vocabulary skills.

Middle and high school students are invited to participate in the program through the Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program. These students receive leadership and mentorship experience, career exploration and college preparation opportunities, and can receive up to 230 community service hours for their time spent in the program. 

“During the summer, with Fun in the Sun, students are able to access academics and never have that summer slope,” said Casie Kilgore, principal at Franklin Elementary School. “They also get an amazing experience that our students would never have the opportunity to see and interact with in our own community. Fun in the Sun carries us through every summer. It’s helped our kids progress academically, social, and emotionally, and prepared them for a secondary system to make college success not just a dream, but an obtainable reality.” 

United Way is now hiring for the 2023 summer season. Current opportunities include Fun in the Sun site coordinators, program leaders and site aides. More info and application information located at www.unitedwaysb.org/employment-opportunities.


Mary Van Buren Elementary: June 12-July 21, 2023

Santa Ynez Elementary: June 19-July 28, 2023

Hollister Elementary: June 19-July 28, 2023

Aliso Elementary: June 19-July 28, 2023

Franklin Elementary: June 20-July 28, 2023

McKinley Elementary: June 20-July 28, 2023

For more information, visit https://www.unitedwaysb.org/fun-sun.For questions or assistance with Fun in the Sun enrollment, please contact United Way at 805-965-8594 or ygonzalez@unitedwaysb.org. For questions or assistance with CIT enrollment, please contact United Way at 805-965-8591 ext. 106 or


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 unitedwaysb.org.


United Way of Santa Barbara County

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(805) 965-8591
President & CEO: Steve Ortiz


Our 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.

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Decades of Support

What I appreciate most about United Way’s approach to programming and outreach is that there is an organizational insistence on engaging the whole community. What that means for me personally is that United Way makes it fun and easy to support Fun in the Sun as it encourages more direct donor involvement with the program. This gives me a hands-on and close-up view of the work being done to support both our public schools and students. United Way makes it easy for donors to access all the programs and it involves members of our community at all levels in contributing, volunteering, and active learning about how we can collectively make our wonderful city and county an even better place for all.
David Jackson
Zegar Family Foundation

The Next 100 Years

In addition to its celebration of the 100-year anniversary alongside the volunteers, staff, partners, and supporters who have made the milestone possible, United Way of Santa Barbara County is also undertaking its first endowment campaign since 1982. 

“Our success in launching new programming and establishing new projects and partnerships are a benefit of that campaign 40 years ago,” President & CEO Steve Ortiz says. “With an evolving community, we need to prioritize maintaining UWSBC’s responsive and innovative programmatic infrastructure to adapt to changing needs. Endowment gifts or special anniversary donations will help UWSBC to stay strong for the next 100 years and sustain our impact on behalf of individuals, children, and families countywide.”

UWSBC Board of Directors

Cliff Lundberg, Chair
Vice President Emeritus, Westmont College
Diane B Doiron, CLU, Vice Chair
Owner, Doiron Financial Associates
Susan Hersberger, Vice Chair
Retired Public Relations Executive
Leo Hamill, Treasurer
Senior Vice President/Regional Manager, City National Bank
Steve Ortiz, Secretary
President & CEO, United Way of Santa Barbara County
Rick Scott, Immediate Past Board Chair
Nonprofit Executive
Tim Armour
Retired Executive
Sue Birch
Retired Educator
Lance Connor
Reliable Engineering Services
David Flattery
Vice President of Business Development, DuPont Displays
Robert Hollman
Commercial Real Estate Developer & Owner
Alex Koper
President & CEO, MoXi, Global Mortgage Group
Shari Liu Fellows
Co-Founder/Principal, The Grayson Agency
Terri Maus-Nisich
Assistant CEO, County of Santa Barbara
Art Merovick
Retired Executive
Kevin Nelson
Director of Corporate Compliance, Cottage Health
Patrice Ryan
Retired Executive