WHAT'S our mission?

To disrupt racial and economic segregation in the Bay Area by building a diverse, integrated, and loving youth community at summer camp that will continue back in the city during the school year.


How will we achieve that?

At camp, our youth will grow in three major areas, all of which contribute to breaking down racial and economic barriers. After camp, they will apply these skills in leadership projects back in their home institutions and communities. These core skills are:

  • Intercultural Competence: Build meaningful relationships with one another

  • Social-Emotional Learning: Develop empathy for each other's experience

  • Leadership: Collaborate and take action with youth from a diversity of backgrounds


theory of change



1. Develop three core skills at camp




2. build integrated youth community in the city




3. advocate for integration and equity at home





Summer camps have been shown to build leadership and social-emotional skills, and have been studied as successful sites of inter-group contact theory, a primary intervention for reducing racial bias. We also went to camp as kids and appreciate that it can be a powerful socializing force and totally magical.



Camp Common Ground serves rising 6th-9th graders from middle schools throughout the Bay Area. We intentionally bring together youth from families of different means, which allows us to bring kids to camp who otherwise could not afford to go, and to provide everyone with a uniquely diverse experience. In this way, we can be financially sustainable as we focus on providing the best program we can. 



We are collaborating with researchers at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education and the Greater Good Science Center to measure growth in leadership, social-emotional, and inter-cultural skills. We also care deeply about the social cohesion that remains in the group post-camp and the leadership projects the campers deploy back home.


what's the vision?

Our vision is that Bay Area schools and neighborhoods are integrated communities, where youth and adults of different cultural backgrounds don’t view one another as “the other.” Instead, they see themselves in community with one another, working together to address social inequities. To move towards this change in the greater Bay Area, Camp Common Ground plans to cultivate its own community of youth (Commoners), adult leadership, families and supporters to represent the values and habits that we will see one day across the Bay Area. Within the next 5 - 10 years, this will look like:


Commoners: As a result of our program, each Commoner (Camp Common Ground youth) will seek to understand differences between themselves and other Commoners of a different cultural background while also seeing themselves in community with them.  Instead of viewing them as “the other”, Commoners will respect cultural differences and have the skills to understand how one’s perspective is informed by their identity. They recognize that stereotypes are socially-constructed, lead to harmful biases, and can be challenged.  Commoners do the personal work required to challenge stereotypes they may have about “the other.”  As they continue in middle school and enter high school and college, they will: (a) speak out as upstanders when they see that a social norm excludes someone because of their identity, and (b) lead efforts at their schools and communities that intentionally bring people from different backgrounds together into community.  


Families:  The relationships between Commoners connect communities that may otherwise be segregated. As a result of a Commoners’ efforts, families join the Camp Common Ground community and learn about the families of other Commoners. In turn, the families break down cultural barriers between one another, in the same way that our Commoners do. Outside of Camp Common Ground events, families keep in regular touch with one another. Families support their Commoners in the work that they do around integration by ensuring that Commoners are present at all Common Ground events.

Adult Leadership and Supporters: As we develop as a Common Ground team, each adult, whether they be on staff or on the Board, identifies areas in their personal or work lives where norms exclude some members of community. Just as Commoners do, each adult leader works to disrupt those norms in their own contexts.  




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