United Way’s Fun in the Sun Program Kicks Off in Santa Barbara County

By Giving List Staff   |   June 22, 2023

The program will serve a record 430 students and their families, including an expanded campus in Guadalupe. 

United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun program has launched its annual summer learning program to benefit Santa Barbara County’s most financially and academically at-risk students and their families.

This year’s program is reaching more students than ever thanks to United Way’s partnership with educational agencies like Guadalupe Union School District. The district’s support of the Fun in the Sun academic enrichment program has doubled enrollment at the program’s North County campus at Mary Van Buren Elementary School, which is hosting over 100 students this summer. All students will receive the full program of services, including literacy support, STEAM and enrichment activities and field trips, as well as access to basic needs and wraparound resources for families and caregivers.

Fun in the Sun is a free six-week summerlearning program that is providing academic and reading practice, hands-on STEAM activities, field trips and other enrichment activities for more than 400 current 2nd-5th graders this year.

This national award-winning summer learning program is running at six sites throughout Santa Barbara County, including campuses in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Ynez, and Guadalupe. 

In addition to a full spectrum of academic and enrichment activities, this year’s Fun in the Sun students are also participating in new STEAM activities like the GLOBE Goes to Camp program, which was developed by NASA to help students explore nature while fostering environmental stewardship and scientific literacy. Program staff will lead participants through scientific investigations curated by NASA scientists.

This year’s students will also enjoy swimming lessons and movement and dance classes, as well as the return of pier fishing field trips and excursions to local universities and colleges like UCLA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college mentorship and exploration.

Fun in the Sun was originally developed to address summer learning loss but over the last 26 years it has expanded into a comprehensive space to support students and their families. The program is supported by 80 service delivery partners, over 38 funding partners and more than 600 volunteers each year. 

“We are grateful for each of the educators, partners, and staff members who make this program a reality each year,” said United Way Santa Barbara County Vice President Melinda Cabrera. “This program continues to be an essential resource for the families we serve. Our team and the program’s dedicated network of partners have worked hard to ensure that every student on campus feels supported and can access the tools they need to start the next school year strong.”

Fun in the Sun also provides leadership and mentorship experience to high schoolers who participate in the Leaders-in-Training program, which provides mentorship opportunities, career exploration and college preparation in addition to up to 230 hours of community service.


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 about the program, volunteer, or employment opportunities, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/FITS.

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