Our History

Our Founding Story

Summer Search was founded in 1990 by Linda Mornell, an adolescent counselor in private practice, who was inspired by the positive impact of her own children’s transformative summer experiences, and wanted to provide more young people with similar opportunities.

In our first year, Summer Search sent 14 students -- students with potential to succeed, but who faced systemic inequities that could get in the way of their journeys to higher education -- on wilderness education programs, to help them strengthen the skills needed to succeed in school and in life.

Recognizing that students would benefit from year-round support, Summer Search began to offer long-term mentoring by trained staff, as well as college access and success support, thereby redefining itself as a leading innovative youth development organization.

With the help of local high schools, community-based organizations, families, and our summer program partners, our comprehensive program now spans a crucial seven-to-nine-year period, giving high school students what they need to strengthen the personal and practical skills to become leaders who give back to their families and communities.

Summer Search founder Linda Mornell (right) with Katherine Kennedy, Linda's first hire.

Today, Summer Search has a national presence, partnering with young people, most of whom will be the first in their families to attend college, in five regions across the country—the Bay Area, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

25th Anniversary Stories