The following is a message from Dr. Marc Spencer, Summer Search CEO.
Dear Summer Search Community,
I hope you and your family are doing well. Thank you for your support and encouragement over these past few months — and thank you to the Summer Search staff for supporting our students during this pandemic with compassion, creativity, and care.
These are truly confusing times. On the one hand, the brutality we are experiencing with the ongoing killing of black males coupled with the significant impact of the pandemic and recession is both frightening and infuriating.
On the other hand, as our Summer Search community continues to adapt to change, we are also starting to look ahead to next year with a spirit of optimism and resilience. Here are some organizational updates:
2020 Post-Secondary Decisions
This year’s high school seniors face unprecedented challenges in deciding their plans post-high school. For Summer Searchers, whose families have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the path toward higher education, which is already fraught with systemic barriers and obstacles, is especially challenging. In addition to the prospect of beginning college with virtual-only classes, many are worried about essentials such as food, housing, and utilities.
Despite these challenges, Summer Searchers continue to show their power and resilience as they push forward and pursue their dreams. You can read about a few of the Summer Searchers who shared their post-secondary decisions this month. Join us in saying congratulations!
Our program teams have been working to reshape how we will be engaging and supporting our students this summer. Our programming will:
• Continue to provide uninterrupted mentoring. The work of our mentors has never mattered more during this time when our students are socially isolated and experiencing health and economic hardship.
• Provide a range of digital and virtual programming that aligns with our intended outcomes. For example, we will be connecting our students with State Street’s Career Readiness program, virtual college tours facilitated by our post-secondary team, etc.
• Continue to build our relief funds in response to the urgent financial needs of our students and their families.
We are inviting students into our process of reshaping our programming so that we can focus our efforts on the opportunities they are most interested in. I’ve been impressed with the creativity and flexibility our staff and students have brought to this process.
We are very focused on the well-being of our team so that they can support our students during these difficult times. In a recent wellness survey, 84% of staff reported that they feel like their well-being is supported at Summer Search in this moment. We have taken many steps to support our team, including supplementing federal benefits, implementing “flex sick days,” and providing additional paid time off through Labor Day so that our team can take care of themselves and their loved ones.
We are planning to reopen our offices as soon as it’s safe to do so — meaning when we’ve gotten the “ok” to reopen from local public health agencies and we’ve reconfigured our offices in line with safety guidelines that allow for social distancing. Staff will have the option to work out of offices when safe, but will not be required to until September 1 at the earliest. We will revisit this deadline and adjust our approach as needed keeping safety as our main priority. Our guidelines will outline a plan for returning to remote work, in case public health agencies reinstate shelter-in-place orders.
I hope these updates provide a window into our work. I am grateful to all of you for being a part of this community. As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.
Dr. Marc Spencer
Summer Search CEO