Heads Up has three primary, tuition-free program components:
the Summer Program, Saturday Leadership Academy (SLA), and the Workforce Development Program.


Summer Program

Our Summer Program is the “bread and butter” of Heads Up. Over four consecutive summers, students occupy the Head-Royce campus and participate in a four-week academic intensive that solidifies the core content from the previous grade, and helps to preview key material for the upcoming academic year.

Each student takes four academic classes, including grade-level math, science, humanities, and Success is Now, a course that explicitly teaches study skills and learning strategies. In addition to their academic course load, Heads Up students also have access to a variety of enrichment options. These classes are chosen thoughtfully with the intention of exposing students to new interests and hobbies. This summer we offered: Swim lessons, Hip Hop Dance, Soul Sister Wisdom, Food Revolution, Drawing/Crafting, Tennis, Theatre, Music Production & DJing, Coding, Eskrima Martial Arts, Digital Media & Photography, Athletics, Pangea Filmmaking, and Fashion Design.

As part of our summer programming we intentionally build in community building activities and excursions. Below is a snapshot of our summer special events: 

Sonoma Ropes Course
(6th & 7th Grade)

Every year, our 6th grade class participates in a Ropes Course at Challenge Sonoma.

Challenge Sonoma proves to be a worthwhile annual endeavor supporting us in creating a community in which: 

- Students develop trust for themselves, their peers, and adults. 

- Students challenge themselves to do something outside of their comfort zone (i.e. stepping up as a leader, stepping back and trusting their peers, and forging new relationships outside of their friend groups).

- Students feel empowered to take risks and try new things. They also feel validated by their peers and adults when they do step up and try something new. 

Shadow Cliffs Lake
(6th-8th Grade)

Each summer we plan a multi-grade field trip to engage in community building, outdoor play, and an appreciation for nature. We had the opportunity to spend the day at Shadow Cliffs, a small lake in Pleasanton. With lifeguards stationed throughout the beach students were able to swim, play games, and relax!

Shadow Cliffs, a program-wide field trip, provides students and staff an opportunity to: 

- Connect outside of the classroom environment to strengthen relational trust 

- Engage in meaningful play that encourages collaboration and cooperation

- Experience a local park most students have not previously visited

Retreat at NatureBridge
(9th Grade) 

Every summer rising 9th graders participate in an overnight retreat. Students spend 24 hours together diving into four key areas: 

- Students learn about their individual leadership style and create a plan for facilitating activities for the remainder of the summer program. 

- Students reflect on their time together, the many lessons learned, and the relationships that were forged. 

 - Students participate in high school readiness workshops learning how to make the most of their first year of high school.  

- After completing 9th grade, the retreat serves as a launch pad to begin teaching students the important skills they will need to transition into our Workforce Development program.


I’m proud of facing my fear of tall heights because that was really scary and when I jumped off I just felt free, like I could do anything I wanted to.
- Heads Up 7th Grader

Saturday Leadership Academy (SLA)

While the Summer Program is intentional about addressing core, academic concepts and preventing “summer slide,” the Saturday Leadership Academy provides students with an opportunity to connect with a diverse group of instructors, their peers, and explore leadership development curriculum. 

Heads Up students return to Head-Royce quarterly during the academic year to participate in the Saturday Leadership Academy (SLA). At the quarterly SLA days, Heads Up relishes the opportunity to bring the entire cohort together for fun activities and field trips that our students may not have access to during the year. Over the course of four Saturdays, we focus on: 

  • community engagement and service, 

  • leadership development, and 

  • experiential learning.

Two Saturdays a year are dedicated to a conference-style experience where students rotate through one to two workshops taught by local educators, artists, and program partners, while the other two Saturdays are dedicated to getting into the community through intentionally planned service projects and field trips.

SLA Day Models


Grade-level appropriate workshops are designed in a half-day conference. The day includes:

- an opening keynote speaker, in September of 2019 we welcomed local educator Josette Neal de Stanton, 

- students participate in workshops that range from High School Survival to Theatre of the Oppressed to experience creative and challenging activities,

- a Closing Circle to wrap up the day, reflect, and offer appreciations. 

Day of Community Action

Students develop their sense of agency by identifying ways that they can have an impact in their community. Past projects include: 

- Connecting outside of the classroom environment to strengthen relational trust 

- Engaging in meaningful play that encourages collaboration and cooperation

- Experiencing a local park most students have not previously visited


Day-Long Workshop

Program partners hold immersion opportunities that challenge students and build community. In February, students will experience:

- a “Big Build” in partnership with the Center for Community Engagement,

- an Escape Room Challenge in partnership with Mycelium Youth Network

 - designing video game characters in partnership with Mission Bit,  

- attending Oakland’s Black College Expo.

Field Trip

Students will be able to explore what the Bay Area has to offer through culturally and academically enriching experiences. Past field trips include:

- visiting the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco to experience the “Teotihuacan” Exhibit,

- attending the Bay Area Science Festival,

 - learning to row with Oakland Strokes,  

- visits to local universities.

Thank you for making a program that my children can see themselves in, is distinctly different than their regular schooling, and something they actually look forward to! - Heads Up Parent

Workforce Development Program

Shifting from academic enrichment to workforce development, Heads Up provides dozens of underrepresented students from Oakland with their first employment opportunity.

Heads Up students graduate after completing four full years of programming. As alums, they are eligible to apply to our Workforce Development Program. Within this framework, Heads Up graduates receive extensive job training, college readiness workshops, and SAT/ACT test prep.