Founded in 1987, the Heads Up Program is a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and Head-Royce School. We run a year-round academic enrichment program on our campus that has served more than 1,000 low-income youth from Oakland. Aligned with Head-Royce School’s core tenets of Scholarship, Diversity, and Citizenship, the mission of Heads Up is to provide first-generation college bound students of color from Oakland public schools with challenging and enriching programming to cultivate socially responsible leaders.

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Our Program

Heads Up consists of a six-week summer program and a Saturday Leadership Academy:

Six-Week Summer Enrichment Program (Where Learning is Magical)

The Heads Up Summer Program runs for six weeks from mid-June through July. Each day, students take four academic courses: Math, Science, Humanities, and Technology. In these classes, students review core academic skills from the previous year and preview important concepts for the following school year. The curriculum emphasizes project-based learning and the use of modern technology including iPads and Google Drive. All academic courses are taught by veteran instructors who teach in Bay Area schools.

Additionally, students choose two enrichment classes such as: Printmaking, Hip-Hop Dance, Racquet-Club (Tennis), Spoken Word, Culinary Arts, Athletics Academy and Photography. These courses are taught by professional artists, trained chefs, and experienced professionals. Heads Up also hires eight passionate and energetic college students to serve as intern-teachers. Interns are interested in careers in education or youth development and contribute a “near peer” mentoring component to the program.

Saturday Leadership Academy (Where Leaders are Cultivated)

During the school year (September–May) students are required to attend the Saturday Leadership Academy. This mandatory component of the Heads Up Program is scheduled for one half-day on a Saturday each month and is taught by master teachers and youth developers, many of whom return from the Summer Program staff. These instructors facilitate dynamic workshops that engage students in building leadership capacity, tangible life skills and the developmental assets necessary to succeed. The student:teacher ratio in this program is approximately 13:1.

Outdoor Ropes Courses, visits to local college campuses and local community service events are also part of the Saturday curriculum.

Fast Facts

•Our resilient and academically motivated students are referred by a fifth-grade teacher or school principal

•Average household income of students is approximately $32,000

•About 90% of students are Oakland residents, representing 94 Oakland public schools

•The vast majority of Heads Up students have been the first in their families to attend college


•In nearly 30 years, Heads Up has served more than 1,000 kids

•Find the full History here.

Our Staff

  • Our faculty and staff are a diverse group of educators who share a passion for teaching and learning.
  • Many of our Heads Up student alumni come back to teach as summer counselors.