History | Aim High
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Proud History, Bright Future

It’s been 35 years since we first opened our doors to just 50 students. Today, with more than 10,000 students served across 18 campuses, Aim High is a Northern California institution—and we’re just getting started. Here’s a peek at our proud history.

The Story of Aim High

1986

Led by Alec Lee and Eleanor McBride, Aim High is founded at Lick Wilmerding High School in San Francisco with a grant from the San Francisco Foundation.

Fifty students attend Aim High’s first program.

1988

Aim High celebrates its first graduating class with 30 ninth graders.

1990

Aim High opens its second site at the Urban School in San Francisco.

2000

Summer enrollment exceeds 500 middle school students.

2001

East Bay expansion: Aim High opens a campus in Oakland.

2006

Peninsula expansion: Aim High opens a campus in East Palo Alto.

Bank of America honors Aim High with the Neighborhood Builders Award.

Summer enrollment exceeds 1,000 middle school students.

2008

Johns Hopkins University names Aim High “one of the nation’s best summer programs” and awards the Excellence in Summer Learning Award

2010

Marin expansion: Aim High opens a campus in San Rafael.

Tahoe/Truckee expansion: Aim High opens a campus in Kings Beach.

2012

The San Francisco Foundation honors Aim High with the Community Leadership Award.

2013

National Partnership for Educational Access honors Aim High with the prestigious Excellence in Collaboration Award.

2015

Aim High celebrates 30 summers, 15 campuses and the 9,000 students served since its founding in 1986. The board approves the Aim High’s strategic plan, Vision 2020, which focuses on deepening Aim High’s impact on teachers, students and alumni.

2016

Summer enrollment exceeds 2,000 middle school students. Aim High celebrates its 30th anniversary and extends to Napa.

Co-founder Alec Lee awarded White House Champions of Change for distinguished service to the field of summer learning.

2019

Aim High, now at 18 campuses across the Bay Area and Tahoe-Truckee, launches an endowment ensuring its impact will continue to grow for years to come and kicks off Vision 2025, its next strategic planning process. In June of 2020, its 35th summer of operation, Aim High will open its doors to 2,400 middle school students.

2020

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, Aim High has launched its first distance learning program, Aim High at Home. Our first virtual summer was delivered with unmistakable Aim High magic, and designed to keep students actively, joyfully learning and connected to their classmates and teachers all summer long. During a pandemic that resulted in social distance and isolation, our students need their Aim High community more than ever.