Category Archives: Staff

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.
Continue reading Creating an Inclusive and Innovative Community

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.

Continue reading Prop 16: Making Equity a Reality

Change is Coming

Last week, Summer Search students, alumni, staff, and supporters gathered together digitally for the second installment in our Black Lives Matter Community Series.

As Summer Search CEO Marc Spencer stated at the opening of the program, “Our purpose in this three-part Black Lives Matter series is to come together during this important moment to heal, learn together, and discuss how we can take action to create a world where all young people can thrive.”

Education and learning was the focus of this event, holding space to discuss how systemic racism shows up in the many facets of our lives.

Continue reading Change is Coming

Navigating the COVID-19 Job Market

How do you find a job when the world is grappling with a global pandemic and a rapidly-changing employment and economic landscape where more than 40 million people are out of work?

A few months ago we brought together a panel of Summer Search alumni and partners to tackle that question from a few different angles:

  • Naming the challenges that recent college graduates and early-career professionals are facing in the job market,
  • Sharing ways that Summer Searchers can adapt to the new reality and make themselves stand out to employers,
  • And discussing how our community as a whole can support each other, and our young people.

Graduating Into Uncertainty: Supporting Young People Navigating the Job Market

Continue reading Navigating the COVID-19 Job Market

A Vigil For Healing

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

— excerpt from Lift Every Voice & Sing


In recent weeks, our community, like so many others, has been mourning, taking action, and trying to heal.

This inspired an idea to truly bring the Summer Search community together, offering a space to honor George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, James Scurlock, and the ever-growing list of Black and Brown people who have died because of violence and racism.

Envisioned by Sylvia Watts McKinney, Summer Search Philadelphia Executive Director, and supported by Hermese Velasquez (Boston ED and alumna), Kris Leja (Bay Area ED), and many others across our network, our team moved quickly to create a Community Vigil Series — a three-part series of virtual events to come together focusing on healing, education, and action. Continue reading A Vigil For Healing

Our Community Responds

Social injustice and racial inequalities must come to an end. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, James Scurlock and too many other Black people are acts of terror.

We know these senseless deaths have caused great pain and angst for all Summer Searchers and have had an especially traumatic impact on our black-identifying students, staff, and community members.

In times of crisis, everyone reacts differently — from speaking out, to reflecting inward, and everything in between. We wanted to spotlight how a few folks in our Summer Search family have responded publicly — from expressing their emotions, rallying their communities, sharing resources, and much more.

Continue reading Our Community Responds

Black Lives Matter

The following is a message co-authored by Summer Search’s Alumni Board Chairs, our Alumni Staff Cohort, and CEO Dr. Marc Spencer.


Dear Summer Search Students and Alumni,

We are thinking of you, your families, and all our communities right now. We wish you safety and health, and hope to see you again very soon. We have much work to do ahead.

These past few weeks have been especially difficult, as our nation has watched the continued assault, police brutality, and murdering of black people. It’s frightening, it’s infuriating, and it’s exhausting.

Black and Brown people, including many in our own community of students, alumni, their families, our staff, and our boards, are living an existential crisis: murdered, exposed disproportionately to COVID-19, terminated from employment and benefits, denied access to healthcare, housing, and financial systems, and backed up hard against the wall. It’s no wonder the result has been anger and protest.

Continue reading Black Lives Matter

Optimism and Resilience

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:

Continue reading Optimism and Resilience

Adapting to Support Our Community

The following is a message from Dr. Marc Spencer, Summer Search CEO.


Dear Summer Search Community,

I hope this note finds you and yours healthy and doing well. I’m writing to share what is happening in our network and how the talented and committed Summer Search team is responding to the needs of our students, alumni, and staff.

Since our last community message in March, our students and their families have experienced lost jobs, food insecurity, and housing crises, in addition to a sense of isolation that comes from sheltering in place.

Now more than ever, students need to know they are not alone. Continue reading Adapting to Support Our Community

Quarantine Bingo: Summer Search Edition

Looking for a fun way to take part in some well-being activities while social distancing? Check out Summer Search’s Survive & Thrive Bingo!

Summer Search Bingo cardSee full-sized Bingo card and instructions below.

This game was developed by Zavi Smith, Summer Search Bay Area Program Manager, in collaboration with several other mentors on the Bay Area and National teams. It’s one of the many ways our mentors have been getting creative as they continue to support our students while working remotely. Continue reading Quarantine Bingo: Summer Search Edition