Boys and Girls Clubs Summer Academy Sets Students on the Right Track

Monday, July 9, 2012 — Sobrato Summer Learning Academy Stands as a National Model

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 12,  2012 -- The Sobrato Family Foundation (SFF) has enabled Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) to provide a model for summer educational enrichment that sets a new standard for the nationwide network of Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

The Sobrato family’s funding has doubled the size of BGCP’s summer program—now called Sobrato Summer Learning Academy (SSLA)—and added an innovative new East Palo Alto Teen Center, all geared towards stopping summer learning loss that can cause students—especially those at risk of dropping out—to lapse academically when school is out.

What: Unveiling of BGCP’s expanded Sobrato Summer Learning Academy and innovative new Teen Center programs

When:  Thursday, July 12, 2012, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Where:  1050 Myrtle Street
             East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Visuals: Clubhouse filled with diverse group of teenage BGCP members and at-risk Peninsula high school students, not only having fun in a safe place, but also learning about college, considering careers and building community.

Who:  Interviews available with:

  • Peter Fortenbaugh, Executive Director of BGCP
  • John A. Sobrato, chairman of the Sobrato Family Foundation and founder, principal and chairman of The Sobrato Organization
  • BGCP 1st to 8th graders and high school teen center student participants

Revolutionary Summer School

Beyond fighting this “summer brain drain,” the new teen center is a revolutionary approach to preventing violence and creating bridges between different cities that currently experience gang tension. This is the first program of its kind to bring together high school students from across the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD), as well as serving students from across the Ravenswood City Elementary School District.

“This is a radical program, and represents a leap forward in the way Boys and Girls Clubs keeps students on track during the summer,” said Peter Fortenbaugh, Executive Director of BGCP. “Safe places for recreation are not enough at a time when summer school is being cut. We are grateful that the Sobrato family recognizes that we can’t leave these students without academic and enrichment support during the summer.”

While the SSLA serves 1st through 8th grade students in the morning at locations throughout the Peninsula, the SUHSD buses all of its participating students to one location—the East Palo Alto Clubhouse—for afternoon enrichment that links their education to college and potential careers.

The enrichment includes six tracks, including Tech It Out to learn multimedia design and music production, Culinary Arts Academy to earn a ServSafe Certificate with help from local professional chefs, and Stomp the Yard to get incoming 9th graders ready for high school and take them to visit universities.

The clubhouse creates a sense of community and offers a safe haven where students from different neighborhoods can gather. This has created a culture in which students from at-risk neighborhoods of East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park and Redwood City become eager to attend class in the morning.

Summer Learning—A Dire Need

Summer learning support is a dire need in California and nationwide. Cuts to state education funding have forced local school districts to reduce or entirely cut summer school classes. Only those SUHSD students who are credit deficient and at risk of not graduating can attend summer school.

“We need to make sure all these kids have what they need to graduate from high school and prepare for college success, because that is essential today. The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula has created an inspiring and forward-thinking program that our family is proud to support,” said John A. Sobrato, founder, principal and chairman of The Sobrato Organization and chairman of the Sobrato Family Foundation.

About Sobrato Summer Learning Academy

The Academy runs for 10 hours per day at six locations, includes parent classes for rising 5th and 8th grade parents, provides academic instruction from certified teachers for 1st through 8th grade students at five locations, and has signed up 110 high school students as volunteers.

The Academy is serving 780 1st through 12th-grade students from June 18 to July 26—more than double the number of students in 2011. This year, the Sobrato family has committed $527,000 to BGCP programs, with nearly half going to fund the majority of the expanded Summer Learning Academy.

The Sobratos’ funding comes in the form of a “challenge grant,” a hallmark of much of the Sobrato family’s grantmaking that encourages other donors to give and gives nonprofits greater visibility. BGCP is reaching out to generous individuals to raise the rest.

The Sobrato family has given more than $1.56 million to Boys and Girls Clubs in the Bay Area, including BGCP, Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Club of Hayward and Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley.

The Ravenswood Education Foundation has provided financial support that paid for hiring certified teachers at two of the sites. BGCP also teamed up with Ravenswood, Redwood City and Sequoia Union High school districts, principals and teachers at Belle Haven, Brentwood and Taft elementary schools, Menlo-Atherton and Carlmont high schools, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park police.

A National Model

This program has caught the eye of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), which recently launched a six-year Great Futures Impact Plan that includes targeted programs in summer learning loss, early literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), increased partnerships with schools and other community-based organizations.

“Summer learning loss is a major challenge for many of our nation’s young people and it is especially prevalent among minority youth without access to high-yield learning activities necessary to keep skills sharp over summer vacation,” said Boys and Girls Clubs of America President & CEO Jim Clark. “Because academic success is one of our three major areas of emphasis, we are eager to learn more about the summer academy pilot at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula so generously sponsored by the Sobrato Family Foundation.”

About the Sobrato Family Foundation

The Sobrato Family Foundation is dedicated to helping create and sustain a vibrant and healthy greater Silicon Valley community, and seeks to inspire current and future generations of Sobratos to steward family resources in service of others. As a place-based grantmaker, SFF invests exclusively in nonprofits that serve low-income or underserved clients and beneficiaries that live and work in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda counties.  For more information, visit

About Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula provides places where young people aged 6-18 are welcome and can belong after school and all day during the summer. At each of the Club's nine sites located in the most challenged areas of Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City, California, trained and caring staff and a cadre of volunteers work through a broad range of programs to guide and inspire youth to develop the attitudes and life skills they need to thrive. The Club is regarded as one of the most comprehensive youth development organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit

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