San Mateo County Libraries to Accelerate Summertime Youth Learning Gains


Katie Woods
San Mateo County Libraries 

SAN MATEO, CA — San Mateo County Libraries is accelerating youth learning gains by supporting families who have endured a difficult year of distance learning with exciting new, free summer learning opportunities.  

Covid-19 impacts have exacerbated and deepened the inequities in youth learning achievement and social emotional development already present in our communities, disproportionately affecting youth of color. At their meeting on May 17th, the Library JPA Board unanimously approved $892,000 in additional funds to support positive whole child outcomes and learning gains this summer. 

“We understand the gravity of pandemic impacts and just how powerful and effective youth enrichment experiences are,” said Reuben Holober, Millbrae Councilmember and Chair of the Library JPA Governing Board. “Now is the time for our libraries to take action to help support our youth, and we were thrilled to approve new summer initiatives to get kids ready for the next school year.” 

The new free learning initiatives include in-person library enrichment camps, STEAM virtual learning classes and kits, and partnerships with local Parks & Recreation programs to increase impact and distribution of free educational materials. These new summertime initiatives are in addition to the already impactful Big Lift Inspiring Summers program, which will be expanded this year through an additional investment of funds and the leadership of the summer program by San Mateo County Libraries.  

Library Board member and Leader of The Big Lift, County Supervisor Carole Groom, shared her excitement for the programs saying,

“I am thrilled that the library is able to offer these enhancements to ensure that every child in San Mateo County is equitably supported to grow and thrive this summer.” 

San Mateo County Libraries four key strategies to support positive whole child outcomes and learning gains include:  

San Mateo County Libraries will lead the award-winning Big Lift Inspiring Summers program, working closely with seven school districts to provide the highest need youth with enriching evidence-based experiences. This summer, we are providing the resources to expand the length of the program and offer additional slots for students with an anticipated goal of serving up to 1,100 youth. Recruitment is ending soon! Applications to make a difference in our communities will be accepted through Wednesday: (, opens a new window

A new and free, in-person library enrichment camp, Library Explorers is designed to develop literacy, math, and socio-emotional skills--while having fun--in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year. From June through July, Library Explorers will be offered at the majority of San Mateo County Libraries Monday-Wednesday.  Enrollment begins this week!, opens a new window

The new Families CREATE program will engage families of 1st-5th graders in both self-paced and guided live, interactive virtual experiences supplemented with English/ Spanish kits of unique activities throughout the summer. 1,500 free STEAM kits will be distributed at all San Mateo County Libraries.

This summer, San Mateo County Libraries will partner with local Parks and Recreation Departments to provide free books, library cards, and hands-on learning materials to youth enrolled in their programs. Additional funding support will be provided to subsidize admission for high need youth to increase enrollment and access to quality experiences.  

“The moment is now, and San Mateo County Libraries is investing in youth learning gains across the County. Through these initiatives, we hope to impact the lives of thousands of youths this summer,” said Library Director Anne-Marie Despain. 

Learn more about our summer programs at Additional news and updates about library operations and services are available on

About San Mateo County Libraries     

San Mateo County Libraries is a Joint Powers Authority that operates libraries in the communities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, North Fair Oaks, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos and Woodside. San Mateo County Libraries ignite growth through transformative experiences. Visit for information about our community libraries, extensive digital and physical collections, innovative services, and numerous online resources and virtual programs and events.   

About The Big Lift 

The Big Lift is a county-wide collective impact effort led by the County of San Mateo, opens a new window, the San Mateo County Office of Education, opens a new window, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation, opens a new window. Largely funded by Measure K, The Big Lift initiative has partnered with more than 300 organizations and 450 county leaders to improve educational outcomes for children in poverty. 

About Funding Partners

Big Lift Inspiring Summers and Families CREATE are supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the California State Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).