The Need: Educational attainment is the best antidote to poverty, yet only 21% of low-income U.S. high school students will successfully complete college. When these young people fall through the cracks, the loss is tragic, both for individuals and for the larger society: a recent article from the New York Times estimated that low-income children cost the country $500 billion when they become adults. Summer Search breaks this cycle.


The mission of Summer Search is to find resilient low-income high school students and inspire them to become responsible and altruistic leaders by providing year-round mentoring, life-changing summer experiences, college advising, and a lasting support network.

Who We Are

Summer Search is a leadership development program with a unique commitment to providing ongoing and long-term support for low-income high school students. Founded in San Francisco in 1990, Summer Search now operates seven offices nationwide helping to place more than 1,100 high school students annually on a path of positive change.

  • 90% qualify for free/reduced federal lunch
  • 45% live below the poverty line which is $20,000 for a family of 4 (2006 HHS Poverty Guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • 92% are minority students
  • 93% are first-generation college students

What We Do

Summer Search selects disadvantaged high school students who demonstrate potential for reflection, altruism and performance (an original model developed by Summer Search called RAP) and helps them realize their full leadership potential.

Summer Search has a four-pronged approach that supports students so they finish high school and go to college, and then helps them be successful in the real world, while encouraging them to give back in the process. We hold our students accountable for themselves while supporting them for the long haul.

Our leadership program services include:

  • Weekly mentoring sessions with highly trained staff mentors, from sophomore year to high school graduation
  • Two summer experiential education programs, after sophomore and junior years
  • College advisory services throughout high school
  • Alumni support throughout college and beyond

To learn more about our program.

Where Is Summer Search?

Summer Search has headquarters in San Francisco and serves high school students from seven offices nationwide. To find a Summer Search office near you.

Who are Our Summer Program Partners?

Special Thanks to our summer program partners who in 2009 donated almost $1,400,000 in scholarships and discounts to send our students on summer programs.

Read Our Stories

Summer Search places our students on a life-altering path of positive change with outstanding results. Our alumni are in turn creating positive change in their families, schools, communities, our nation and around the world! Read their stories.

Get the Facts

You can read about Summer Search at a glance by downloading our fact sheet.

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