Category Archives: Staff

Cesar Cortorreal – A Spark Ignited

“[Summer Search] has taught me that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I believe in paying it forward, so I want to mentor others and give back. This program changed me and I want to give that same opportunity to someone else.”

That was Summer Search Philadelphia college student Cesar Cortorreal speaking to the The Philadelphia Tribune in a recent article about the impact Summer Search has had on young people in Philly.

Cesar at Franklin and Marshall CollegeCesar on the Franklin and Marshall College campus.

Continue reading Cesar Cortorreal – A Spark Ignited

What If a Degree was Debt-Free?

The following is an op-ed co-written by Summer Search Philadelphia staff members Sylvia Watts McKinney, Executive Director, and Kaitlin Irvine, College Access and Success Manager.


Earlier this week, high school seniors in Philadelphia and across the U.S. celebrated College Signing Day, the official deadline for most students to make their final decisions about where they’ll be going to college. While those decisions are milestones worth celebrating, it’s important that we as a city, state, and country address the fact that they also come with a significant price tag, which is a challenge for most.

Higher education is a public good, but currently, financial aid, family income, and government support cannot keep up with the rising costs of a post-secondary degree. Imagine if a college education came without crippling costs or long-term debt.

college_debt-FB Continue reading What If a Degree was Debt-Free?

Renewal Award Winners!

Last month, we announced that Summer Search was a finalist in the third annual Renewal Awards, a national competition recognizing local organizations driving positive change in their communities.

Thanks to Allstate, The Atlantic, and everyone in our community who voted for Summer Search, we won the runner-up prize of a $10,000 grant!

Runners UpOn stage at the Renewal Awards ceremony. From left to right: Jillian Hishaw, Esquire from F.A.R.M.S.; Ron Brownstein from The Atlantic; Dominique Stone from Profound Gentlemen; Cynthia Whitfield-Story from Allstate; Sharon de Oliveira from Summer Search; Jeremy Collins from Fugees Family.

Continue reading Renewal Award Winners!

Pitch Your Peers: Joining Together for Greater Impact in Seattle

“Our motto is ‘Together, we can do more’​ and we all truly felt this when we were able to hand over such a large check to Summer Search! Alone, nobody in the group could have made this impact. Our members are all motivated, smart, and accomplished women who all want to help make our community better.”

That was Erin Krawiec speaking about her organization called Pitch Your Peers (or PYP, pronounced “pipe”), which she cofounded in Seattle with fellow philanthropist Aly Burks. At a PYP event in December, they presented Summer Search Seattle with a $25,000 grant — a very large check indeed!

PYP and Summer SearchFrom left to right: Aly Burks, Robyn Hsu, Lexi Keeler, Macaria Dove, Erin Krawiec, Eliza Arai Carrington.

Continue reading Pitch Your Peers: Joining Together for Greater Impact in Seattle

Observations from the Summit: The Evolution of Mentoring

Last month, we sent a team of Summer Search staff to the 2018 National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC. Our National Director of Research and Evaluation, Salem Valentino, Ph.D., shared her reflections from the conference in this guest blog post.


This is my sixth year as a researcher in the field of mentoring and also my sixth year attending the National Mentoring Summit. While that may not seem like an extensive period in anyone’s professional career, the field of mentoring has rapidly evolved during those six years.

SS-staff-group-MENTORSummer Search staff at the 2018 National Mentoring Summit. From left to right: Seth James Ellis, Antonio Brown, Stacey Thompson, and Salem Valentino.

Continue reading Observations from the Summit: The Evolution of Mentoring

Meet Nick and Ching

January was an exciting month at Summer Search.

Our high school mentors have been busy deepening their relationships with our students, helping them integrate the reflections from their summer experiences into their lives, while also placing juniors on their second summer programs and preparing to welcome a whole new class of sophomores to Summer Search. Our College Access and Success mentors were also hard at work supporting students with college applications, financial aid, and their pursuits of their bachelor’s degrees. Plus, we announced a cool partnership with Chris Long and Michelle Obama, and we celebrated National Mentoring Month!

We were also excited to welcome two new senior leaders to the organization: Nick Hutchinson, our Chief Operating Officer, and Ching Tao, Vice President of Finance.

Nick and Ching have definitely hit the ground running to start the new year, and while the two of them have been busy getting to know Summer Search, they were kind enough to answer a few questions to help our Summer Search community get to know them. Continue reading Meet Nick and Ching

Why I’m a Mentor, Part 2

As National Mentoring Month comes to a close, we wanted to share a few more stories from our dedicated Summer Search staff about why they do this work: mentoring young people and helping them strengthen the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.

In case you missed it, you can read Part One here.

Tolu Oladele, Philadelphia Continue reading Why I’m a Mentor, Part 2