Jessica Par: Sharing My Story

The following is a guest post and reflection from Seattle Summer Searcher Jessica Par, a junior at University of Washington Seattle pursuing Education. This was originally shared as part of Summer Search Seattle’s Unstoppable Campaign.


Being a part of Summer Search has changed my life. As a first-generation college student, and coming from a refugee background, I was so lost during high school. But Summer Search was able to provide me structure, while supporting me with resources and authentic mentorship. My Summer Search mentor plays such a critical role in my life that I’m not sure where I’d be without her. From talking about academic issues to professional development to personal matters, she has always been there for me.

Jessica ParJessica Par.

Continue reading Jessica Par: Sharing My Story

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

Alumnus Helps Former Teacher During COVID Crisis

“We managed to get on what turned out to be one of the last flights leaving the country… By the end of the day all borders of the country were closed. No one in or out. Vasny saved us!”

Vasny Maldonado was nominated to apply for Summer Search by his teacher, Jan Hudson, at Mission High School in San Francisco in 1996. In present day, during the outbreak of the coronavirus, the two were reunited in an unexpected, yet meaningful way. But first, back to 1996…

Vasny Wilderness Summer ProgramVasny Maldonado during one of his summer experiences.

Continue reading Alumnus Helps Former Teacher During COVID Crisis

Mentoring During a Pandemic

A month ago, it was business as usual.

Across our five regions, our staff mentors were busy welcoming new sophomores into Summer Search and supporting our juniors and seniors with their post-secondary planning, while our communities celebrated together in the Bay Area and New York City.

Then everything changed. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world and is disproportionately affecting our most under-resourced communities.

In these vulnerable and unpredictable times, Summer Search remains committed to supporting our young people and their families. Our staff is finding innovative ways to continue to provide mentoring — offering a much-needed safe space for our students to process, explore, and relate to what is happening in the world.

Staying Connected

BA_Zoom_Group_logoBay Area students on a Group Mentoring video chat, led by mentor Gabrielle.

Continue reading Mentoring During a Pandemic

Being a Nurse on the Front Lines of COVID-19

Summer Search reached out to Seattle alumna Lisa Blechschmidt, a registered nurse working in the Pacific Northwest. She reflects on her role as a nurse, what’s changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers advice to help the community stay safe.

Name: Lisa Blechschmidt

Site: Summer Search Seattle

Summer Search Trips:
1) Outward Bound in Moab, Utah.
2) VISIONS on the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana.

Current Position: Registered Nurse

Lisa_NurseLisa Blechschmidt (right), registered nurse and Summer Search Seattle alumna.

Continue reading Being a Nurse on the Front Lines of COVID-19

Resources: Taking Care of Community

We’re all in this together.

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is creating rippling repercussions for so many across the country and the world, especially for Summer Search’s students and families — such as loss of school lunches, loss of hourly-wage jobs, lack of paid sick leave, uncertainty for students returning home from college, and shuttering of small family businesses.

Even while social distancing, our Summer Search community continues to show up (via phone calls, text messages, and video chats) for each other to provide much-needed spaces to process, explore, and relate to what is happening in the world.

Summer Search Alumni Board Zoom ChatSummer Search alumni and staff staying connected in a Bay Area Alumni Board meeting, via Zoom. Originally shared by Bay Area alumna Melissa Nop.

Continue reading Resources: Taking Care of Community

Health & Commitment

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


Dear Summer Search Community,

Our world is changing quickly. Just last week I was in New York City meeting with our National Board, attending our gala in NYC, and participating in a staff retreat. The coronavirus events were beginning to occupy much of our attention but had not yet completely taken over our daily reality.

Today our staff is working remotely and watching as more and more people are being affected by the virus along with seeing the response from the markets, school districts, community leaders, and politicians. We are entering a public health challenge that will impact all of us in a myriad of ways. Continue reading Health & Commitment

Debuting Our Depth Mentoring Institute

It’s National Mentoring Month — a time when organizations across the country highlight the powerful and positive effects that mentoring relationships can have on young people’s lives.

It’s also a chance to shine the light on (and express our profound gratitude towards) Summer Search’s dedicated, professionally-trained mentors — the ones who take tremendous care to build and maintain those authentic and long-lasting relationships with our students!

Summer Search Mentoring Workshop Continue reading Debuting Our Depth Mentoring Institute

One Chance to Make Change

The following is a guest post written by Niles Xi’an Lichtenstein, entrepreneur and Summer Search Bay Area alumnus. It was originally shared at a Summer Search fundraising event. Lightly edited and shared with permission.


Hi everyone, I’m Niles Lichtenstein, a Summer Search Bay Area alum.

Niles Lichtenstein

While ‘Summer Search Alum’ is an amazing title to have, perhaps the best title I’ve recently received was the title of ‘Dad’ to my wonderful daughter Genevieve, who we call ‘Evie’.

Evie was born 11 months ago and upon her birth, my mother, as she smiled at a future generation strong female, said something profound to me. She said that “having a granddaughter felt like having a second chance.”

“A second chance for what?” I asked her.

“A second chance to give Evie all the things I couldn’t always give you,” she replied. Continue reading One Chance to Make Change

Supporting young people to thrive.

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