First-Time Voters

The following is a message from Dr. Marc Spencer, Summer Search CEO, featuring a Q&A from two Summer Search participants who are voting for the first time.


The noise and tension around the upcoming election can feel overwhelming, especially in light of the difficult moment we are in. I’m writing this as yet another death has occurred in the Black community — Walter Wallace, Jr. in Philadelphia — by police use of excessive force.

Amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19, the uprisings against police violence, the climate crisis, and an economic crisis, we are facing decisions that will impact us, and the young people we partner with, for years to come.

As I know this community is aware of, voting — for president, for local councilperson, for judges, and every elected position and proposition in between — is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. It’s a moment where each of us can lift our voices and our power.

Voter ID resource from When We All Vote and Vote Riders. See more resources at the bottom of this story.
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Creating an Inclusive and Innovative Community

An inclusive community works as a team to offer resources and works hard to improve the quality of life of its members.”
Jess H., Summer Search Philadelphia alumna.

Last month, the Summer Search community gathered together to discuss and answer the central question: How do we create an inclusive and innovative community?

This conversation was led by Summer Search Philadelphia, who re-imagined their annual event to meet the moment and the movement of 2020, reflecting the desire for all of us in the nonprofit, private, and government sectors to pursue profound and sustainable change.

The format of the discussion was a Charrette, a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and design solutions, featuring voices of Philadelphia students, alumni, board members, staff, and key business leaders.

Summer Search Philadelphia student and alumni speakers: Amarion, Jess, Sianni, and Cesar.
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Going Back To School in 2020

We’re running out of ways to talk about how unprecedented and unpredictable 2020 has been. So, let’s hear from the Summer Search community.

Last month, Seattle alumna Ehler Tha Win shared her perspective on graduating college into a world facing a pandemic and racial injustice.

Today, we’re excited to share two voices from our high school community — Summer Searchers who are going back to school and navigating COVID challenges and tensions around racial and social issues.

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Summer Reimagined: 2020 Highlights

“Although we may not have been able to go on our trips, I still did a lot of self-discovery and completed my goals.”


Thanks to the dedication, imagination, and innovation of our entire Summer Search community, we were able to completely change our 2020 summer plans to keep our community safe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This summer, across our entire network, our young people were able to choose from a wide variety of online programs that promoted some of the same outcomes as our traditional in-person/travel-based summer experiences — agency and educational attainment.

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Prop 16: Making Equity a Reality

At Summer Search, our staff and participants are passionate about achieving racial equity and liberation and strongly believe that everyone has the right to succeed in the path they choose for themselves.

As part of this commitment, we are proud to endorse Proposition 16 on the California ballot this fall alongside more than 400 community organizations, businesses, and local elected officials.

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Connecting Our Community

At Summer Search, we’re all about relationships and opportunities, providing our young people with mentoring, opportunities for growth, and access to professional networks. At the same time, our community of staff and supporters also benefit tremendously from the connections made with Summer Searchers.

As we continue to evolve to better meet the needs of our students, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re launching a brand new tool that will connect our entire community like never before.

It’s called Summer Search CONNECT.

Summer Search CONNECT logo designed by Summer Search alumna, Molly Inglish.

This is a new digital portal for Summer Search students, alumni, staff, board members, and our external partners. CONNECT will be a place for:

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Alumni Participation Challenge 2020

Summer Search alumni represent a rich tapestry of voices, experiences, and leadership. This growing network of nearly 4,000 leaders is making a positive impact in the world and at Summer Search.

One crucial way they are making an impact is through giving back — whether that’s giving back to their local communities by volunteering, voting, working in the nonprofit sector, or donating.

We are incredibly grateful for our alumni’s generosity. Over the years, Summer Search alumni have graciously given with their dollars to support the young people in our program, with alumni generating revenue topping $200,000 last year.

In 2020, alumni are once again rallying to support Summer Search at a most critical time.

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Graduating into a Pandemic

Year after year, the young people we partner with work tremendously hard to complete their goals and take the next steps in their journeys. They’re studying and passing exams, graduating and matriculating to new campuses and cities, and starting or advancing their careers… all while navigating systemic barriers and inequity.

In 2020, add a global pandemic and repeated, very public, reminders of racial violence and injustice to that list of obstacles.

But Summer Searchers persevere and thrive!

Recent grad and Seattle alumna Ehler Tha Win took some time to answer a few questions about her experience transitioning from college to career and shares how she believes people can support each other during these unprecedented times.

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Black Lives Matter: Our Work Has Just Begun

At Summer Search, we designed our Black Lives Matter Community Series to come together to heal, learn together, and discuss how we all can take action to create a world where all young people can thrive.

Our first session, a Community Healing Vigil, filled our hearts with hope.

Our second session focused on education and attracted external experts who provided us with critical answers to poignant questions. 

Our third session offered ideas and strategies from the fields of education and psychology on how to move forward towards a just and equitable society

Watch highlights from our full Black Lives Matter series »

As we conclude the series, we thank each and every one who joined us in community as we came together in this moment. We invite you to read some of the remarks, resources, and highlights from the past few months.

Continue reading Black Lives Matter: Our Work Has Just Begun

Stories From A Historic Class

For the first time in the University of California (UC) system’s history, Chicano or Latino students made up the greatest share of Californians admitted to the freshman class, at 36%.

As part of its “California Today” column, The New York Times profiled four members of this historic freshman class — discussing being part of a major shift in UC system and about starting college during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And two of those featured students are Summer Searchers — Mariana and Dora from the Bay Area!

Screenshots of two Summer Searchers featured in The New York Times.

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Supporting young people to thrive.

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