Teenage school friends smiling to camera, close up

It’s here! Every spring Growing Up in Santa Cruz publishes an annual guide to resources available to teens (and their parents) in the Santa Cruz County area. Our goal is to provide an accessible, helpful list of resources to help teens and families navigate the complex needs of teens in ways that promote healthy avenues for growth, exploration and development. The resources in this guide offer support for dealing with academic, peer pressure and relationship issues, as well as recreational, job training and volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to share this guide with your teen and post a copy up in your house so your teen has easy access to the resource list. As some topics may be difficult for teens to request support with, we also suggest giving a copy of this guide, and especially of the phone and text hotlines at the end of the guide, to your teen.


Kirby School
Grades 6 through 12
425 Encinal St, Santa Cruz
Kirby School empowers students to shape their futures with confidence. Our independent middle and high school has been preparing students for college for over 25 years. In classes averaging 12 students, teachers are attuned to each learner’s strengths and interests. Our rigorous academic and arts curriculum, intensive study paths, and inspiring faculty challenge each student based on their interests and readiness, rather than grade level. Ranked one of the top STEM schools in the nation by Newsweek. Kirby graduates attend excellent four-year colleges and universities.

Gateway School K-8
Santa Cruz, CA
Gateway School’s Middle School offers a dynamic, challenging education that prepares teens for the fast-changing world by focusing on scholarship, citizenship, and compassion. Using neuroscience and research to inform our program, we teach reasoning, collaboration, kindness, and the other essential skills that lead to academic excellence and personal integrity. Small class sizes, individual attention, robust electives, and a unique approach to Science Fair ensure that Gateway Middle School graduates are well prepared intellectually, socially and emotionally to meet the challenges of college preparatory high schools and beyond. We invite you to join us for our School Day Tour. Visit gateways.org for more information.

Mount Madonna School
Pre/K-12th grade
491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna
Mount Madonna School prioritizes the social, emotional and physical well-being of its students, while emphasizing academic excellence, positive character development and creative self-expression. Accepting mid-year transfers, and offering in-person, on-campus and remote learning options. MMS strives to prepare well-rounded human beings who succeed in college, value collaboration, form meaningful relationships and engage with their communities, nation and the world. Transportation available, with convenient bus stops throughout Santa Cruz County. MMS does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, medical condition, gender identity or gender expression.

Santa Cruz Montessori, Ages 18 months – 15 years
Main Campus (Primary and Elementary)
6230 Soquel Drive, Aptos
831.476.1646, Enrollment: ext. 113
Winston Campus (Young Children’s Community and Jr. High)
244 Cabrillo College Drive, Soquel
Established in 1964, Santa Cruz Montessori is a non-profit school serving children 18 months to 15 years.  Our beautiful classrooms and outdoor environments engage the children’s senses as they learn.  Based on a deep understanding of child through adolescent development, our programs meet the interests and needs of our students, engaging and challenging them to do their best. Our Junior High program, Wavecrest, supports 7th and 8th grade students to develop self-discipline, confidence and peer connections through collaborative learning and community involvement. Students work weekly at Live Earth Farm and develop an understanding of their personal vision through community involvement and a challenging academic experience. Now accepting applications for Fall 2021.


Advantage Driving School
Advantage Driving School has been training safe drivers in Santa Cruz County since 1999. Our professional and friendly instructors are experts in preparing you to drive safely and to pass the DMV Test. We offer a variety of packages and we will even take you to the DMV for your test! You can trust Advantage Driving School to have the best value with excellent instructors, competitive pricing, and flexible scheduling. We also offer a state-of-the-art online scheduling program and a convenient pay as you go program. Visit us at AdvantageDriversEd.com and start driving today!

Adventure Sports Unlimited
303 Potrero Street, #15, Santa Cruz
We teach infants through adults the joy of water through our Swim School. Our Ocean programs introduce families to our marine environments through the Seafood Foraging, and Kelp Pickling. Explore the world-renown underwater landscape of our local bays through our Open Water Scuba courses. It starts in our custom-built aquatics facility.

Autism Family Network Santa Cruz
2927 Leotar Circle
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 
Autism Family Network Santa Cruz is dedicated and committed to “Bridging the Gap” within our communities for those individuals on the Autism Spectrum and those with Special Needs by providing education, resources, special events, public awareness, acceptance and inclusiveness for all. We strive to assist our community for the supporting of Autism Awareness, Acceptance and Activities while empowering individuals to embrace our differences and motivate inclusiveness. Autism Family Network is about inspiring and motivating those in the community to “Be The Difference” for individuals on the Autism Spectrum and special needs.

Be Natural Music
740 Water St, Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 515-8369
Be Natural Music is a Jazz & Rock Music School based in Santa Cruz, with a satellite studio in Corralitos. Our school offers private music lessons, Real Rock Band classes for youth and teens, workshops, and music camps during summer. We offer musical tutelage on voice, piano & keyboard, guitar, bass, saxophone, clarinet, drums & percussion, ukulele, and harp.

Community Boating Center, UCSC
790 Mariner Park Way
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
The UCSC Community Boating Center has been teaching local juniors how to sail for over 30 years. All classes are hands-on, co-ed classes, ages 8-16 and are taught in RS Quests, RS Visions, and Lasers. Students learn the basics in the protected Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and progress to the beautiful Monterey Bay. Enjoy sailing in a safe, fun, and supportive environment with knowledgeable, experienced staff. Sign up today! (Adult classes are also available!)

Community Music School Teen Band
For ages 12-19. Teens meet on the first and third Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00pm in downtown Santa Cruz to play Celtic, Americana, and Swedish music. Students must have at least two years experience on their instrument; the ability to read sheet music and chord symbols is a plus. For players of fiddle, viola, flute, tin whistle, pipes, cello, upright bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, ukulele, Celtic harp, and accordion. Cost: $0 to $10 per session, sliding scale. Potential students are welcome to come check it out – no obligation!

Dignity Health Medical Group
Visit us at dhmf.org/Dominican
Capitola (Santa Cruz) Pediatrics:
(831) 476-3000
Aptos Pediatrics: (831) 612-6264
For many, health care has been on hold—but it’s time to get back to caring for yourself and your children. Dignity Health Medical Group wants to make it safe and easy. Whether you choose our video visit option, or an in-person visit at our clinic with increased safety protocols, you’ll get medical expertise and personal attention—safely and comfortably. Our primary care teams and pediatricians focus on delivering comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents. Also important for parents, our Urgent Care Center is open seven days a week from 8am-8pm. It’s located on 41st Avenue in Capitola (next to our Pediatrics Care Center).

FOOD WHAT is a youth empowerment and food justice program using food, through sustainable agriculture and health, as the vehicle for growing strong, healthy and inspired teens. We partner with low-income and struggling youth to grow, cook, eat and distribute healthy, sustainably raised food and address food justice issues in our community. Teens can participate through spring internships, summer jobs, fall business management opportunities and through community events on the farm.

Four Points Youth Camp 
Orchard School, 2288 Trout Gulch Road, Aptos, CA
[email protected]

Four Points Youth Camp is a new summer day camp with activities designed to broaden every camper’s horizon. Serving campers in grades K-8, our activities include sports, arts and crafts, technology, and traditional camp games.We also offer a counselor-in-training program for teens 13-15 years old. These activities are designed to cater to each age group. With new unique themes each week, every camp session is a fresh experience.

Happy Giving Hands
FB @ HappyGivingHandss
IG @Happy.Giving.Hands
[email protected]
Santa Cruz youth fighting period poverty with education, donation, and love. Local period product shelf at SLV tri-campus, near the cafeteria. Do you need period products, want to get involved in community service? Send us a message! Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for information on our next period product collection drive!

International Student Services
Santa Cruz
[email protected]
Host Families are being sought for exchange students from Italy, Spain & Germany for the ‘21-’22 high school term & semesters.  The making of a lifetime friendship between families here and overseas is an amazing experience. Getting to know about our world through their eyes and the sharing of cultures makes the world smaller creating an understanding in love and acceptance. Have fun! Make a friend you can visit. All students will be COVID-tested.  

Nueva Vista Community Resources
711 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz
The Familia Center is a Latino-based community resource center that offers both recreational and educational programs for youth. Homework help, academic help and support are provided. Occasional field trips, recreational activities and outings are also available.

Planned Parenthood
1119 Pacific Ave., Suite 200, Santa Cruz
398 South Green Valley Rd, Watsonville
24-hour Facts-of-life Hotline
Planned Parenthood also provides educational services through schools and community agencies and has a peer education program. Planned Parenthood also sponsors support groups. For more information about any of our programs, please call (831) 758-8902, ext. 213. A 24-hour Facts of Life Hotline, 1-800-711-9848, and our Teen Wire website, www.teenwire.com, also provide general information regarding reproductive health and birth control methods.

Pregnancy Resource Center of Santa Cruz County
1570 Soquel Dr. Ste 3, Santa Cruz 95065 or
138B Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 95060
831.475.2200 or 831-454-8481
Pregnancy Resource Center was founded in 1983 and continues to serve the women, families and students of Santa Cruz County with competent, compassionate FREE medical care. Our services include abortion options, pregnancy tests, ultrasound, counseling, parenting classes, material assistance, housing, post-abortion recovery, to name only a few.

Salud Para La Gente
204 East Beach St., Watsonville
A primary health care network with 12 clinic sites, including 7 school-based clinics in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. It also offers Gay and Proud, a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans- gender youth that provides a safe environment to socialize, develop self-esteem and leadership skills, and share information about identity and relationships. This program involves mostly monolingual Spanish speaking youth ages 14-19. The clinics also provide confidential pregnancy and HIV testing.

Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition
1070 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition offers many opportunities for community members interested in smoking and other tobacco issues that impact our county. The Coalition also has lots of information on how to quit smoking. Call to request educational brochures or a list of classes in Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz Public Libraries
224 Church St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
During the Covid closures, the Santa Cruz Public Libraries offers online tools to support student success. You can borrow Chrome books, Fire tablets, and Wi-Fi hotspots.  If you have your own device, you can use the library’s Wi-Fi and print remotely.  With a library card, you can access online homework help and you’ll also have 24/7 access to research tools. Watch our website for great programs and workshops for teens. Join the Advisory Council of Teens (ACT) to get involved with the library’s teen services and programming.  The ACT is meeting virtually during the Covid closure.  Make a difference and earn community service credits at the same time. Find yourself in the Library!

Survivors Healing Center
Survivors Healing Center is a safe and confidential place for survivors of child sexual abuse. Our goal is to empower those victimized by sexual abuse and to prevent sexual abuse of children and youth in our community. We provide a safe and supportive healing environment Shifting from sexual violence to a trauma in- formed culture based on safety, trust, collaboration and empowerment.

Thomas Farm Films
P.O. Box 67
Aptos, CA 95001
Located on an organic farm in Aptos, Ca—Thomas Farm Films educates children on how to make movies. From script to screen, our hands-on curriculum promotes creativity, self-confidence, and critical thinking…resulting in short films that will be screened together at local theaters in Thomas Farm Film Festivals! ALL children can learn the craft, as we offer partial & full scholarships for those in need. Teens 15 – 18 years old can apply to be Production Assistants for our summer camps. Must be First Aid/CPR Certified. Apply on our website.

Thrive Young Leaders
For Teens and Young Adults
Thrive Young Leaders empowers teens and young adults to be true leaders of their own lives, environment and community. We offer 1-on-1 Life Coaching, Mentoring, Academic Coaching and Tutoring, as well as workshops and group Rites of Passage programs.

Ultraderm | California Skin Institute
3311 Mission Dr., Santa Cruz 95065
(831) 272-0936
There are many opinions on the internet about skincare and ingredients such as salicylic acid, antioxidants, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid. Ultraderm | California Skin Institute is a premier dermatology practice in Santa Cruz helping teens with their acne, eczema, melasma, and more. Trust our board-certified dermatologists and specialists to take the guesswork out of your skincare routine and customize a treatment plan based on your skin type and needs. We are accepting new patients. Visit our website or call to make an appointment.

Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center
 303 Walnut Avenue Santa Cruz, CA 95060
 831- 426-3062
Warriors Group provides youth aged 12-18 with the support they need during their teen years. We provide a safe space for youth to build their self-esteem, learn skills to form healthy relationships, interact with positive role models, and learn to problem-solve around challenges they experience in their life. Through informational workshops, games, and discussions we explore healthy relationships, communication, and self-care while having fun. Once a month, we also host a dance class, movie night, and a culture night! Warriors youth group meets weekly at the Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center in Santa Cruz from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. 

YMCA of Watsonville
27 Sudden St., Watsonville
The YMCA offers a variety of programs for young people that combine fitness, education and entertainment while focusing on developing positive self-images and leadership skills. These programs include aquatics and karate classes, Night Hoops basketball league.

1740 17th Ave, Santa Cruz
[email protected]
YouthSERVE is dedicated to connecting youth, ages 11-17, with rewarding community service projects across the Santa Cruz County. Under the direction of adult volunteer leaders, YouthSERVE volunteers contribute their talents to making positive change in our community.

Youth Services
709 Mission St., Santa Cruz
241 East Lake Ave, Watsonville
Youth Services is a component of Encompass Community Services that serves families and adolescents by helping them find positive solutions to the wide range of challenges facing youth today. They offer numerous programs at their two locations, some at no cost and others on a sliding scale. There are weekly therapy groups as well as a one-time use program. Youth Services works closely with the juvenile justice system as well as city schools and various community service agencies. Many more services and programs are available, please call or visit the website for more information.

Crisis Phone Numbers

AIDS Hotline

California Youth Crisis
24-Hour Hotline

Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline

National Runaway Safeline
24-hour hotline-will relay messages


Parental Stress Hotline

Sexual Assault
24-Hour Hotline


Teen Line
Teens Helping Teens
Text TEEN to 839863

Quit Smoking

Suicide Prevention Services

This is by no means a complete list of all the teen resources and programs in Santa Cruz County. GUiSC is not responsible for any errors or omissions, nor does inclusion in this listing constitute our endorsement of a program. Please call to verify the information listed.