8 Black-owned summer programs tweens and teens will love
They'll learn valuable skills while making a difference.
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While tweens and teenagers do not need constant supervision, they are still affected by the closure of summer camps due to COVID-19. This summer in particular, your teenagers may need your help finding positive and productive activities to occupy their time. On top of that, even if they aren’t discussing it with you, they are aware of efforts to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and hearing about anti-racism protests across the country. Both the pandemic and the fight against systemic racism motivate parents to have new discussions with their children and consider how to best navigate these strange times.
As racism excludes great people, ideas, and experiences from everyday life, one concrete way to fight back is to welcome the viewpoints, efforts, and work of Black people—and not just on topics centered on race. You never know what unique enrichment program could spark a career or life-long interest that brings your child success and joy. We’ve found eight incredible, virtual, Black-run summer enrichment options that tweens and teens will love.
1. The NEXT GEN
Cost: $34.99 - $39.67 per month
The NEXT GEN supports girls in middle school and high school with enrichment focused on the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership. An additional goal of the program is to help the girls have the confidence to successfully navigate these formative years. This is a year-round program where they focus on one theme each quarter. Each month, participants have a live virtual session with an expert discussing aspects of that quarter’s theme, and there is an online portal where the participants can access additional resources and tools. Another benefit of the program is a quarterly curated box with items to enhance learning and build self-confidence. Participants are also matched with a mentor.
2. The Adroit Journal Mentorship
Grades: 9-12 (including graduating seniors)
This mentorship program pairs experienced writers with aspiring writers who are in high school. This year they’re focused on poetry, fiction and non-fiction. The program is not a set curriculum or course; instead, the mentees have the opportunity to workshop their work with peers and mentors throughout the program, with a focus on learning about both the writing and editing process. While the program is full for this year, parents of aspiring writers should keep this program in mind for future years. Also, students are currently allowed to submit their work for publication.
3. Gen Do It
Grades: Rising college students, college students
This non-profit organization matches talented, energetic, and passionate students with paid and unpaid internships where they get to work on existing issues and real-world problems. Internships are formative experiences and the opportunity to hone problem-solving skills while working on real-word problems will not just boost students’ resumes, but also their confidence and hirability in the future.
4. Bolden Fields Arts Academy
Bolden Fields Arts Academy is running three types of virtual courses this summer: Filmmaking 101, Photography 101, and a Weekly Literature Discussion group. The Filmmaking and Photography courses are six weeks long and follow a set curriculum where students learn and practice the basics. The weekly discussion group provides a moderated platform where students are exposed to and explore great literature.
5. OverAchiever S.T.E.A.M. Academy
Cost: $50 per week tuition, plus varying materials fees
This summer, OverAchiever is offering five different virtual, one-week camps. They each run about 1.5 hours per day and are focused on different age groups. The goal of the company is to provide enrichment activities in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM), and the goal is to help students compete with 21st century skills. This summer they are offering:
- Super Slime Camp for grades K-8; learn how to make many different types of slime
- Lego camp for grades K-8; learn how to use Legos to create inventions, games, stories and art
- Camp Dream in STEAM for grades K-8; explore STEAM skills while completing hands-on challenges and experiments like extracting the DNA from fruit
- Mathemagic for grades 4-8; learn about magic and math while improving focus and ability to solve complex math problems in your head
- Brain Boot Camp for grades 6-12; learn study, organization, time management and test taking skills that boost self-confidence.
In addition to these themed week options, the company also offers one-one-one summer tutoring.
6. Girls Write Now
Grades: 9-12, graduating seniors doing a gap year, college students
Girls Write Now is a NY-based mentorship program for girls and non-binary youth that helps them hone their creative and professional writing and communication skills. Due to COVID-19, they have shifted their offerings to a virtual format. Virtual programming this summer is open to all—even if your student is not part of the mentoring program. This organization provides an empowering writing experience for young, diverse, and disadvantaged writers through community and mentorship. Available programming includes writing workshops that cover op-eds, the personal statement, and more. Of note, 100% of the program’s mentee alumnae have been accepted to college in the 20+ years that program has been running.
7. Camp Reel Girl Power
Shaken World Screenworks, a Black-owned video production company based in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, has partnered with Heart of Love Yoga to create their first online summer camp for girls ages 10 to 17. It’s all about empowerment—building self-esteem, self-love, and transforming young lives through the power of movement, mindfulness, and movie magic. This year it runs July 15th through August 14th and participants will experience a fun blend of creative games, yoga, dance, self-discovery, writing, photography, and filmmaking.
8. Dash Camp
Ages: 6 to 12
Cost: $99 per week
With two Black Co-founders and an incredibly diverse staff of teachers, Dash Camp is the virtual day camp that has it all. Campers get live, virtual 25-minute classes for two hours each day, and there are a wide range of subjects for kids to choose from. Kids will be engaged, laughing, learning, and moving all summer long, and you can even take advantage of their free one-day trial.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.