Common Questions about the Summer Search Program

What is Summer Search?

Summer Search is a year-round program that empowers young people to confidently pursue their vision of success during and after high school through mentoring, summer experiential learning opportunities, individualized college & post-secondary advising, and career supports.

We believe that all young people should have the support to pursue their purpose and secure their financial futures.

Starting in sophomore year, your student will be paired with a staff mentor and a group of peers for regular conversations where they will work together on building social emotional and leadership skills and exploring college and career options after high school. Your student will receive support from our community for 7-9 years as your student journeys from high school through to launching their career.

Where does Summer Search work?

We partner with high schools and community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City.

Please visit our school partners page to learn whether Summer Search is working with your student’s high school or program.


How much does Summer Search cost?

There is no cost to participate in the Summer Search program. 

What does Summer Search offer my student?

Summer Search’s comprehensive program is designed to provide sustained, holistic support from high school, through education and career pursuits. Each participant is offered:

  • 1:1 mentoring and mentoring with peers facilitated by trained staff mentors
  • Summer experiential learning opportunities during high school that are fully funded
  • Individualized post-secondary pathway exploration, financial aid advising and financial capability coaching
  • Regular text messages exchanges that include important program updates and help your student stay connected
  • Consistent network of support for 7-9 years, from high school all the way through participants’ launching their careers
  • Access to national network of staff, alumni, board and corporate partners for professional development opportunities, including career-based coaching, job shadow days, internships and targeted job opportunities 

What is the commitment from participants and their families?

The power of this program comes from the combination of the depth of support provided by Summer Search and the mutual investment made by each young person in our program.

Initially to enroll in the program you and your student will be asked to complete an application which includes providing information about your family’s financial picture.

Once your student is accepted into the program, you will be invited to talk with your student’s mentor over the phone, review materials about the program in your preferred language, and attend an orientation (which will mostly be virtual in the 2021/2022 school year) to share more details and answer questions.

There are other opportunities to connect with your child’s mentor and post-secondary advisor through the program, including attending events and meetings.

There is no cost to participate in the Summer Search program.


How does Summer Search select participants?

Sophomores who attend one of our partner schools (or are affiliated with one of our partners) and who meet our eligibility guidelines can apply to Summer Search.

To be eligible for Summer Search, prospective students must be sophomores from a partner school, be Free and Reduced lunch-eligible and be born on or after August 1, 2004.

Your student will be invited to complete an online application linked to the Summer Search website. Once they complete their part of the application, you’ll receive an email invitation to review their application and complete some additional information about yourself and your household in your preferred language. This step may include providing income verification.

Your student will participate in an interview or welcome conversation with Summer Search to get to more information about the program and meet some of our staff to help your student decide whether to enroll in our program.

What type of summer programming is offered?

Summer Search participants are awarded scholarships to participate in summer experiences after their sophomore and junior years. These experiences are opportunities for growth and connection that are both challenging and empowering.

Traditionally during the first summer, Summer Searchers go on a 2-4 week outdoor adventure in their home state or another state. Backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, cycling, and sailing are some of the most common adventures that our students experience.

Given COVID-19, we have been reimagining our summer programming to ensure the health and safety of your student and our staff and partners. We are continuously monitoring the guidance provided by the CDC and local health authorities. Currently, we are planning for a range of summer experiences, including:

  • Local experiences, like internships and outdoor programs
  • Travel experiences including out-of-state wilderness, academic, and service programs
  • Virtual experiences to be led by Summer Search or program partners.

Your student will be actively involved in selecting summer experiences that support their interests and aspirations. Summer Search will confirm which options will be available to your child early in 2022 based on federal and local public health guidelines.

Parents/guardians and participants will always have a choice about whether to participate in a summer experience.

Who are the Summer Search mentors and advisors?

Summer Search mentors are full-time, paid professional staff who are trained in social-emotional learning, critical consciousness development, college advising and trauma-sensitive practices.

Summer Search mentors are unique in their backgrounds and skills coming into Summer Search.

Some have previously worked as admissions counselors, others as licensed social workers and others have worked with wilderness programs.

Summer Search staff are united in their ability to see and center the strengths and voice of Summer Search students.

All staff complete a background check before they are hired.

How is mentoring being offered during COVID-19?

We are providing 1:1 mentoring and meetings with student peer groups virtually via phone and Zoom to ensure the safety of your student and our staff.

There is a possibility that in-person programming, like mentoring in schools or in-person events, will resume. 

We are continuously monitoring the guidance provided by the CDC and local health authorities to understand when in-person activities can safely resume.

Additionally, for activities that take place at your student’s school, e.g., meetings with student peer groups, we will follow the preferences and policies of our partner high schools.

What about the cost of attending college?

Summer Search post-secondary staff will partner with your student to find a good fit college and provide support in navigating the process of securing financial aid and scholarships to make college as affordable as possible.

We take an individualized approach to advising participants on their post-secondary pathway to ensure that we are supporting your student’s goals and aspirations.

About 88% of our high school seniors choose to attend college and 68% earn a 4-year degree within six years of high school graduation.

How does Summer Search support my student’s career goals?

Your student will join the Summer Search community and will have access to a national network of staff, alumni, board and corporate partners for professional development opportunities including career-based coaching, job shadow days, internship and job postings.

These opportunities are offered via a private portal which your student will be invited to join.

Can I contact Summer Search staff?

Absolutely. Our staff share regular updates on what’s happening via email and social media and directly with your student.

You may reach out to the staff based in your location by visiting our community pages and emailing or calling our staff directly.

We aim to partner with you to support your student and encourage open communication throughout our partnership with your student.