San José Learns provides high-quality out of school time programs to students in grades TK-3 from low-income communities, where approximately half of third-graders are not proficient in English language arts/reading and mathematics. Through an annual grant program, SJ Learns provides school districts with resources that leverage their own budgets and those of their program providers to ensure positive learning outcomes and increase the number of at-risk children who attend high-quality out of school programs.

The Need

Established by Mayor Sam Liccardo in 2015, San José Learns is designed to bridge the achievement gap for students in low-income communities, where nearly half of third graders are not proficient in English language arts, reading, and math.

The divide is particularly pronounced for San José’s students of color, with 60% percent of black third graders and 75% of Latinx third graders testing below grade level. Compounding the dilemma, nearly 5,000 students do not have access to free, high quality, school-based extended learning programs. With children spending less than 20% of their time in the classroom, these programs provide crucial support for students who are struggling academically.

Unfortunately, many low-income families cannot afford fee-based alternatives, especially during the current health and economic crisis. The SJ Learns initiative gives school districts the resources to leverage their own budgets and outside program providers to provide free programs that improve learning outcomes for at-risk students in grades TK-3.

Since its inception, SJ Learns has provided in excess of $4 million to fund after school and summer enrichment programs and give students a safe and supportive space to thrive.

By 2021, the program is projected to serve more than 3,400 students from schools in low-income and underserved neighborhoods throughout San José, including Alum Rock Union, Franklin McKinley, and Luther Burbank School Districts. This will take continued investment by the City and its many partners, including the San José Public Library Foundation, which administers the SJ Learns grants program.

The Opportunity

Local Education Agencies and education leaders are encouraged to apply for funding through SJ Learns. The grant opportunity for the 2021-22 academic year is now OPEN. Learn more and submit a Letter of Intent.

The Impact



  • Library Tier $100K+