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.

To do this, everyone went above and beyond. Staff on our mentoring and fundraising teams stepped up to design and lead workshops based on student interests and input. Summer Search alumni, board members, and other supporters volunteered their time and expertise. Our summer partners devised truly innovative ways to take their in-person experiences into the world of Zoom.

Summer Search students participating in virtual Career Readiness (top) and Artistic Activism (bottom) workshops.

As we look back on our most unprecedented summer, we’re sharing a few inspiring reflections from our students on what they brought home from these unique online experiences.

Post-Secondary Preparation

Whether it was attending virtual college tours, learning about Study Abroad programs, or just having conversations with their post-secondary advisor, Summer Search students continued to persevere and focus on their goals after high school.

As one Summer Searcher explained: “My greatest success lied in talking to my mentor. He helped me solidify my post-secondary goals and find more confidence behind my pursuits. I found his input to be invaluable during this time, when everything is in such a gray area and it’s so easy to just let go of all your plans and goals. So he’s helped a lot.”

Another student shared their appreciation for the way their mentor led a virtual college tour session. “She posed important questions that I hadn’t initially taken into consideration, such as what type of work study programs are provided, how diverse is the campus, and what are the available meal plans. She helped me think more deeply about what I want to get out of college as well as helpful advice for living on campus. She made the experience a lot more engaging.”

Summer Search Boston staff during a virtual college tour.

Career Exploration

Summer Searchers participated in mock interviews, virtual job shadows and internships, and resume writing workshops.

My greatest success during my summer program experience was the completion of my resume, because that was the first time I’ve seen it,” one student explained. “It seems so easy once I get to know what a resume is. And now I have a resume sample I could use for my future reference.”

Flyer for a series of Financial and Career workshops and panels, co-organized by our Bay Area and Seattle teams.

Staff across our network also put together a whole host of career panels from many different industries: medical, marketing, legal, real estate, nonprofit/education, mental health, art/entertainment/sports industry, tech, financial services, journalism, and politics/activism. The majority of panelists were People of Color, including several Summer Search alumni.

During a Summer Search Boston Marketing Career Panel, Brian Owens — SVP Retail Insights, Kantar — shared advice on the importance of showing up authentically in your professional life, saying “Wherever you go, be yourself… there’s ways to be successful without feeling as though you have to sacrifice who you are.”

Social Responsibility

Our high school students had the opportunity to connect with diverse communities across the country to engage in virtual programming that develops identity, agency, and a global perspective. As one student shared:

I got to meet so many new people from around the world and I got to learn about the similarities and difference of social issues from each other. Through some research and learning from each other, I was able to create my virtual campaign about social issues that I cared about.”

My greatest success during my summer program experience was getting to understand myself better,” explained another Summer Searcher. “Through learning about myself I realized what impact I want to make on my community.”

Statistics from Summer Search’s end-of-summer student survey results.

Financial Literacy

With workshops like “Credit Foundations 101,” “Things I Wish I Knew About Money,” and “How to Buy Your First Home,” Summer Searchers had a variety of ways to start and/or continue their financial education.

I learned so much more about credit that I did not know before,” explained one student. “It is very important to me because I am still learning about credit cards.”

For another Summer Searcher, their greatest takeaway was “knowing more about finances/budgeting and being more responsible with spending money.”

Well Being

Our staff and alumni led group exercises, cooking classes, and open mics for our students. They also facilitated difficult conversations, like healing from racial trauma, and held space for reflection and growth.

Two Summer Searchers shared their perspectives:

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

“[My greatest success was] being able to bond with other students and create many amazing memories that I was able to keep along the way, also learned many things about myself.”

We are truly grateful for everyone who helped make this summer possible for our young people. Leave a comment to thank our staff, supporters, and partners, and to congratulate our students on completing one hell of a summer!

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