Summer Search

Bay Area

The New Summer Search Bay Area


Big News!

We are delighted to announce the upcoming completion of our Bay Area regionalization. Our team has been working towards delivering our program to Bay Area students through one regionalized operation, and consolidating our historic sites of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and North Bay. This will enable us to enhance student experience while simplifying operations.



Students served


Partner schools


Race of students served











Median household income


First-generation college students






360 22nd Street, Suite 305
Oakland, CA 94612 MAP

T (415) 362-0500

159 H Street 
Petaluma, CA 94952 MAP

T (707) 763-2001



Save the Dates for the Bay Area's 2017 Signature Events!


Bay Area

Join us this spring for Summer Search Bay Area's three signature events:

  • Silicon Valley Gala on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 in Menlo Park, RSVP Today »
  • San Francisco Gala on Thursday, April 6th, 2017 in San Francisco, RSVP Today »
  • North Bay Dinner on Thursday, May 4th, 2017 in San Rafael, RSVP Today »

We hope you can join us for one or more of these exciting events.

For more event information, please contact Crystal Yang at or 415-478-7172.  



Latest News

Wish Book: Program helped teen build confidence and courage

Summer Search has moved!

The Summer Search National and Bay Area teams have been on the move this Spring!

North Bay Dinner - April 21, 2016

2016 North Bay Dinner
Record-Breaking Success!

On April 21, more than 450 members of the Summer Search community came together for our 2016 North Bay Dinner, raising over $860,000 in support of our students. Thank you everyone who made the 2016 Dinner such a memorable evening. In addition to recognizing our first Begin. Believe. Become. Award winner, North Bay Board member Liz Hale, we heard the inspiring stories of our male voices of Summer Search and closed the evening with the journeys shared by our keynote speakers Lupita (pictured) and Annissa. In the words of Annissa:

“There are so many programs that help students get into college. But along the way, only Summer Search helps students find themselves and their passions! We are taught to dig deeper and find the right way for us."

Thank you to our guests and donors for investing in Summer Search and ensuring more young people in the North Bay soar!

San Francisco Gala 2016

On March 24th, 600 members of the Summer Search community came together for our 2016 San Francisco Gala, raising $1.36M for our Bay Area students! Thank you for investing in Summer Search and ensuring more young people in the Bay Area soar!

  • Relive the 2016 San Francisco Gala, anytime by viewing and sharing Jennessica's keynote address.
  • Experience how Summer Search is a Bay Area game changer in partnership with the Super Bowl 50 Fund Host Committee.
Alexis at his graduation from Vintage High School

North Bay College Success Student featured in Super Bowl 50 Fund Game Changers Video

North Bay student Alexis Flores (UC Santa Cruz, Class of 2019; Vintage High School, Class of 2015) is one of the "stars" in a video produced by the Super Bowl 50 Fund highlighting their Game Changers grantees - including Summer Search Bay Area! Watch the full video, and read about Alexis's story on Summer Search's blog.

The entire Summer Search North Bay team is so proud of Alexis and can't wait to see how he changes the game for himself, his family, and his community as a college-educated leader!

College Access Program Update

Our College Access focus this quarter has been supporting our high school Seniors with their college decision process. May 1st was the deadline for many students to submit their Student Intent to Register (SIRs) at California State University (CSUs), University of California (UCs) and many private colleges. We are extremely excited at all the college acceptances our students have been receiving. We have held drop-in office hours, in addtion to our ongoing advising to review financial aid packages and weigh out their options. We've been intentional about bringing our families into this process, as we know it is a transition for them, as well as their child's. 

Follow us on Instagram: SummerSearchBayArea


Lindsay Hower

Lindsay Hower, Summer Search Bay Area Executive Director


Teke Kelley, Summer Search Bay Area Board Chair



SiMone Andrade

College Access Coordinator

Dreaming of a world robust with educational and social equity, SiMone has devoted her experiences to working with youth.

Her journey started as a first-generation college student at UC Berkeley where she graduated with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. Motivated to serve, she spent several years working in public schools in the Bay Area in various capacities and a time abroad in a school in Venezuela. While she wore many hats at her schools, the majority of her work included providing resources and believing in her first-generation students to see post-secondary education as a viable and successful option.

Being continually inspired by her students and with a desire to work even more intentionally with these resilient young people, SiMone is enthusiastic to be here at Summer Search as a Program Associate.

Most of her time is spent travelling around the larger Bay Area catching up with friends and around Sacramento where she cherishes time with her family and dogs. After a brief lapse in competitive dance, SiMone is also looking into rekindling her passion out on the dance floor. 

Jason Baker

Senior Program Associate

Jason is a committed youth worker who possesses a proven ability to challenge young people to think about their values and attitude in order to develop, achieve and manage their behavior. 

A first generation college graduate, Jason received his B.A. from California State University East Bay with a degree in sociology and served as recovery counselor at Thunder Road. Jason brings an understanding of the needs of young people to his role as Program Associate and is eager to help our students raise their aspirations. Jason currently resides in Oakland where he went to Skyline high school. Jason connects with summer search because he is also a first generation graduate.

Currently a resident of Oakland, Jason was a former athlete in at Skyline high school and in college, and he enjoys running and weightlifting on his spare time. 


Moneek Bhanot

Bay Area College Success Manager

Moneek has a deep commitment to social justice for low-income first generation students of color, especially as they navigate higher education. As a college student, Moneek was a participant and peer counselor in UC San Diego’s Summer Bridge program where she learned about issues of systemic inequity and became an active member of the student of color community. 

Prior to working at Summer Search, Moneek taught middle school and high school and also served as an academic advisor with San Jose State University’s EOP program.

Moneek holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego. She received her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

When she’s not working, you can find Moneek hanging out with her enormous family, jammin’ to 90’s R&B music, trying new restaurants, or rooting intensely for the Niners, Warriors, and Giants.

Joni Bissell

Bay Area Director of College Access

Joni believes every student deserves not only access to higher education, but also the luxury of choice to reach and surpass the norm of expectations. In order for our future leaders to reflect and instigate a compassionate world, higher education has the utmost urgency. 

The ability and stories of Summer Search students to surprise, inspire and make positive change in this world continue to be Joni’s motivation for her work. She feels fortunate to support hundreds of students in their post-secondary options and assist them through the college process. 

Joni grew up in St Louis, earned a BA in Art History from Wells College and her College Advisor and Career Planning Certification from University of California, Berkeley. 

She is the proud mother of three sons, all college graduates and wonderful, good young men.

Donaciano Botello Torres

Program Associate

Donaciano was born in Michoacan, Mexico and came to the United States when he was two months old. He was raised in a small town in Sonoma County, where his father worked as a farm worker and his mother as a maid. Raised on the belief that higher education was not only a possibility but an expectation, his status of being an undocumented student did not deter him from pursuing a four-year degree. He graduated from Windsor High School in 2006, and went on to attend Sacramento State University where he doubled majored in Sociology and Ethnic Studies; he now pursues a Masters in Higher Education Leadership there. He feels grateful for the various mentors who guided him throughout his educational career and provided him with a sense of empowerment and motivation.

Donaciano is a keen social advocate, and brings to our team broad experience from his prior work in community organizing and student support within institutions of higher education. His passion to serve others is what propels him at Summer Search. As an alumni of the Summer Search North Bay program, he is aware of the challenges of being a low-income, first generation student. He is proud to come back full circle and work for Summer Search at the office that provided him the support and motivation to succeed, not only in high school, but in life.


Ryan Cooney

Director of School and Community Engagment

Ryan believes in a level playing field for everyone…period. Every young person should have the right to dream big and act on those dreams. 

Ryan began his career in the North Bay public school system, working in ESL classes while serving as an assistant baseball coach at College of Marin. Although proud of his achievements with youth in the classroom, Ryan was drawn to Summer Search because of its long-term investment and impact. 

Ryan holds a BA from California Lutheran University where he was a three-year starter on the baseball team that won two conference championships. He continues his love of baseball by playing in a semi-pro league, serving on the league’s leadership council, and coaching a local youth travel ball team.

When he isn’t working at Summer Search or on the baseball field, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children in Fairfax, California.


Gabriela Curbelo Zeidman

Program Associate

Having grown up in Brooklyn as a daughter of parents who have devoted their careers to criminal justice reform and alternatives to incarceration, Gabriela's determination to be a part of systemic change towards closing the opportunity gap has only grown stronger. Building meaningful relationships with students and encouraging them to discover their inner strength is what inspires Gabriela every day at Summer Search. Having taught Spanish at Mission High School in San Francisco, Gabriela knows first hand the long-lasting importance of education and professional opportunities for students. She previously worked with high school students in New York City at Wishbone and also studied ways to close the vocabulary gap for children aged 0-5 at the Next Generation in San Francisco.

Gabriela currently plays competitive co-ed soccer, loves trying new exercise classes, and teaches donation-based vinyasa yoga in the evenings. She can be found at home with a knitting project or outside exploring the Bay Area by learning new ideas and attending workshops. After 9 months of backpacking travel throughout Mexico, Central and South American, Gabriela is now happy to call Oakland her home.  

Gabriela went to Middlebury College where she studied International Studies with a focus on Latin American Economic Development and Spanish Language.


Alysa Delgado

Site Innovation Pilot Specialist

Alysa is excited to be at Summer Search because it weaves together her passions for education, supporting high school youth, and nature.

Alysa did a service year with Americorps for Playworks, coaching and providing organized play and physical activity at an elementary school in Oakland. At Caritas Creek Environmental Education Program, Alysa saw the impact of bringing youth from diverse backgrounds into nature. She has also worked in a school-based Health Center as a Health Educator, and Counselor. 

Alysa holds a B.A. in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and a MA in Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential.

Alysa was born and raised in the Central Valley of California and love to be near the ocean and play basketball.


Katherine Frazier-Archila

Bay Area Donor Relations Manager

Katherine believes every individual deserves equitable access to education, nature, and a positive, long-term network of support. 

Having had the opportunity to travel as a young person, Katherine has personally benefited from experiential education. Summer Search’s commitment to the development of young people both through travel and on-going mentorship resonates deeply with Katherine. 

Prior to joining the Summer Search team, Katherine worked in various program and development-related positions within the education, public health, and environmental fields, most recently as a Program Associate with CARE’s Sexual Reproductive & Maternal Health Team and as the Development Manager at the Alliance for Climate Education. Her work at Summer Search is focused on a portfolio of individual donors, helping to match their passions and unique interests with strategic organizational needs for the Bay Area sites. 

Katherine is a proud alumna of Agnes Scott College and earned her Master of Social Work degree from Georgia State University in 2012.


Nicol Gaffney

Summer Programs Coordinator

Nicol grew up in the mountain town of Murphys, California. In high school he traveled to Mexico to build houses with the families that would live in them – an experience that aligned him with many of Summer Search’s values. 

While earning a BA at UC Santa Cruz, Nicol was an Academic Mentor helping to create turn-arounds with students on the verge of failing out of college. Nicol also worked as a Lead Science Instructor at Galileo Summer Camps, expanding his experiences with youth and solidifying his belief in the power of mentoring. 

After college he lived and taught in Loja, Ecuador, and now Nicol feels he’s found the home he has been searching for at Summer Search.

Bradley Hill

Program Manager

Bradley was born and raised in Atlanta, GA where he cultivated his interest in social justice and education. His passion for equity and developing a critical consciousness for the collective has led him to Summer Search. 

Bradley has worked inside and outside the classroom, applying multicultural pedagogy in his social studies class, improving child welfare at a think-tank in D.C., analyzing policy for low-income job creation at the state capital, and evaluating financial literacy programs. 

He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Georgia and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgia State University.

During his off time, Bradley enjoys being in the garden, hooping on folks on the basketball court, getting his yoga on, and socializing with friends.


Nikki Howell

School and Community Engagement Coordinator

An Oakland native, Nikki is committed to serving Bay Area youth through promoting education, altruism, and cultural exchanges through travel. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree at Cal State Long Beach and completing her MSW at UCLA, Nikki went on to pursue her goals beyond the classroom. She’s enjoyed living and working in different cities around the world, including Chicago, Madrid, and Dar es Salaam. Making human connections and sharing experiences with people from varying communities led her back to Oakland. She is now sharing her love for relationship-building and community with high school students from her shared background.

As a mentor at Summer Search, Nikki gets to do what she loves every day. She honors and uplifts the voices of her mentees and has a deep respect for the strength and courage they exhibit as they share their perspectives, challenges, and triumphs.

When she’s not at work, Nikki enjoys people-watching at the Farmers’ Market, running half and full marathons, and racking up stamps on her passport with a good book at her side. Her current goals include adopting a dog, naming him Bigger Thomas, and regularly bringing people together.


Colleen Klus

Director of High School Program, Bay Area

Colleen’s experiences volunteering for Muscular Dystrophy Camp built her awareness of injustice and privilege, and helped her value experiential education. She is committed to striving for collective empowerment through environmental, racial, and social justice.

Colleen received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Miami University and spent the following two and a half years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia.

Colleen moved to the Bay Area and joined Summer Search where one minute the team is jamming to Janet Jackson and the next minute talking about cultural appropriation. 

She and her husband Justin are dedicated members of the Oakland community. Colleen also spends time cooking, visiting family and friends, singing, and appreciating the beauty of the Bay Area.


Kara Leslie

Bay Area Senior Development Associate

Kara’s background in volunteer management and passion for access to experiential, educational opportunities motivates her work at Summer Search. 

Kara previously worked at a fine arts museum as well as a variety of film festivals, and is thrilled that this path has brought her to an organization demonstrating the importance of equity in education. She is constantly inspired by our students’ dedication and commitment to long-term academic and professional success. 

Kara hails from Cincinnati, OH and holds two bachelors’ degrees from Loyola University Chicago. She is excited to now live in a beautiful, snow-free city and enjoys eating, watching movies, and taking her dog on long hikes.

Zuleica Lopez

College Success Associate

Born and raised in South East Los Angeles by Mexican parents who instilled in her the importance of education, Zuleica has dedicated her career to working with students. 

As a first generation college student, Zuleica earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Education from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in Higher Education from NYU. Zuleica taught middle school youth in Oakland, led community service trips for high school students abroad and advised college students on the east coast. Zuleica moved back to the Bay Area last year and is thrilled to be at Summer Search because it merges her love for experiential learning, service, mentorship and supporting first generation college students in her role as a College Success Associate. 

In her free time, Zuleica enjoys running, hiking, traveling and discovering good eats all over the Bay. 


Miguel Mendoza

College Access Coordinator

As a first generation student, Miguel understands how difficult it is to navigate the college application process. He also knows that getting a college degree can change the life of a person and break the cycle of poverty that exist in many of our communities. Those two things motivate Miguel to serve a population that will change our communities. 

Miguel has mostly work in the non-profit sector. One of his most meaningful jobs was working as a College Counselor at Bottom Line (In Boston), an organization that helps low income/first generation students apply to college. This position helped him develop college counseling skills and see the impact of his work in the community. It was Miguel’s first job out of college and he still as passionate about helping students as he was when he started. 

At Summer Search Miguel helps students navigate the college application and financial aid processes. He feels that his contribution is minimal when compared to the help our students receive from the mentors, but it is still a fundamental part of the growth that will help students change and have better lives. When he is not helping the youth in Oakland, Miguel loves to watch films, especially foreign films. To him, film is a form of entertainment and education, you can learn a lot about a culture by watching a film. He also likes to read books about financial investment, social experiments and history or anything that will keep him entertain. Miguel attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and he majored in Political Science.

Brian Mertens

Program Associate

Brian believes in the importance of introspection, critical thinking and learning by doing. As a Program Associate, he has the privilege to support Summer Searchers develop their social-emotional competencies through weekly conversations and eye-opening summer trips.

His previous professional experience includes coordinating advocacy projects with youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems and assisting high school students build their workforce skills through workshops and internships.

Brian holds a B.A. in Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania. He likes to travel, read and spend time with friends.


Cristina Perez

Bay Area Director of College Success & Alumni Relations

Cristina is a San Francisco native, born to Mexican parents who believe that education leads to personal and professional success. Mentors helped Cristina navigate the worlds of higher education to become the first in her family to graduate from college. Cristina’s experience fueled her passion to increase opportunities for the vibrant voices of first generation students.

Cristina has a BA from University of San Francisco, and a Masters in Social Work from San Jose State. Prior to Summer Search, Cristina worked at La Clinica de la Raza, Instituto Familiar de la Raza and at Santa Clara’s Kaiser Child and Adolescent Department.

Outside of work, Cristina and her husband explore the beautiful gems of the Bay Area with their energetic daughter.

Lindsey Roark Yee

National Program Performance Manager &                         Bay Area Regional Program Director

After years of working with youth in the outdoor education space, Lindsey Roark Yee realized she wanted to make a bigger difference in the lives of young people and Summer Search’s comprehensive program with insight-orientated mentoring spoke to her.

Lindsey led the North Bay Summer Search program team for five years where she cultivated a spirit of innovation, collaboration, and excitement – all of which she has brought to her current role. In her role on the National Program Team, Lindsey combines her deep understanding of the Summer Search program model with her management skills. 

Lindsey holds a BA in Communication, a Masters in Organization Development, and a National Softball Championship earned while playing for UC Davis. More recently, she received the 2013 Summer Search ‘Laugh and Celebrate Success’ award. 

Lindsey loves backpacking with her husband, visiting her family in Grass Valley, crunching autumn leaves underfoot, holding a warm mug of tea with both hands, and laughing with her new baby boy.

Jocelyn Sanchez

Progam Associate

Jocelyn is committed to serving underprivileged youth and seeing them soar to reach their dreams. Being a first-generation college graduate in her family with a Masters in school counseling, she encourages her students to challenge themselves while providing support along the way. 

She joined Summer Search in the beginning of 2015 as a program associate. She excited to begin the college process with her caseload of seniors and looks forward to explore all the opportunities that await them.  After finishing graduate school in NYC, Jocelyn moved to Seattle for two years where she worked as a high school counselor. It was there that she learned about Summer Search while mentors were conducting interviews at the school. Jocelyn was inspired by the kind of work Summer Search does with their student’s and knew that was the route she wanted to take for her own career path.

On her free time, she enjoys reading, being outdoors or spending time with my friends and family. She also really enjoy spending time in the kitchen practicing her cooking and baking skills… and then eating. Jocelyn also has a dog with whom she and her boyfriend love to play and spend time with.

Josie Santiago

Program Associate

Josie grew up in Barstow, CA, a small town in the Mojave Desert. She is passionate about youth development, education, and community service.

Josie holds a B.A from the California Lutheran University and Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. 

Josie's desire for service compelled her to join the fight against education inequity by becoming a Corps Member with City Year Los Angeles and then a Teacher with Teach For America. Her service with both of these organizations fueled her desire to work at Summer Search which offers a holistic approach to helping youth reach their full potential in life.


Fernando Serrato

Senior Bay Area College Success Coordinator

Fernando is excited and eager to help Summer Search college students transition and excel in their academic, civic, and social endeavors.

Fernando grew up in Morgan Hill, California. The first in his family to graduate from college, Fernando earned a degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. He held various leadership positions while at UCSD, including serving as an academic transition counselor for incoming first-generation students and as president of the Nu chapter of Gamma Zeta Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Fernando has worked as a senior youth counselor for Horizons Unlimited. At Beyond 12, he helped establish and facilitate summer transition programs at the CCSF Bridge 2 Success and Summer Institute.


Zavi Smith

Program Associate

Zavi attended camp for the first time when she was ten years old. That one week made her feel more capable, confident, and connected than she had ever felt, and she knew that she wanted to do work that would help other kids feel the same. Zavi began her service career in elementary school, as a Kindergarten Mentor and AAA School Safety Monitor.

Now, she is an educator who thrives on a mix of mentoring, facilitating, and project management. Zavi helps youth do their best, whether that means finishing a 10 mile hike, improving grades, or finding their voices. She has ten years’ of experience in youth service and programming. Before coming to Summer Search she worked for The Mosaic Project, Naturebridge Yosemite, The YMCA, and Girl Scouts of Greater LA. 

While studying psychology at UC Santa Cruz, Zavi conducted research with an emphasis on student identity, educational program impact, and evaluation. She also volunteered for a student initiated outreach and retention program for underrepresented populations, and earned a Social Justice and Community Leadership Certificate. 

Zavi is from Southern California where she grew up reading, rollerblading, and going to concerts. She also enjoys board games, and making costumes, nail art, and piñatas.

Ben Stevens

Program Manager

Ben credits the mentors in his life with helping him to thrive in the face of significant challenges as a young adult. Hailing from England and having traveled extensively, Ben values the growth promoted by experiential learning and cultural immersion. He can’t imagine a better job than sending inspiring young leaders out into the world.

Ben’s higher education, which ranged through the California junior college and public university systems, positions him well to serve our students. Having earned a debt-free, triple honors bachelors from UCLA by working his tail off, Ben now brings the same hard graft and ingenuity to Summer Search. His multi-cultural study of literature helps him relate to the rich stories Summer Searchers represent, as does his prior work and volunteer experience in youth development.


Jessica Stout

Program Associate

Beginning her career as a youth advocate with the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Jessica was driven early on by a desire to contribute to a community in which all people have access to their own greatest potential. Jessica believes that the right of access is a key primary step in giving individuals the opportunity to follow the path that inspires them to live a happy and fulfilled life unique to each.

Having worked in many corners of the world from India, to Mexico, Fiji to Nicaragua, from east coast to west with some of Summer Search’s strongest partners Jessica is excited to take the learning she has developed and apply it to working with the extraordinary young people with whom Summer Search works. Jessica has joined the Bay Area team as a Program Associate with more than 10 years of youth development experience during which time she established and implemented a learning curriculum for a school of more than 500 students who have been marginalized by their communities. In Nicaragua she worked with a local public health clinic to share and implement best practices for prevention and reduction of disease transmission.

Jessica holds a BA in International Studies and Political Science from Siena College. When she isn’t at Summer Search she loves to explore the outdoors and travel to unknown places. Running, hiking, biking and climbing are just a few of the wonderful activities that she fills her free time with.


Curtis Yancy

College Success Coordinator

Curtis’ love for youth development with underserved families is deeply rooted in his personal experience and in interactions with peers from opposite ends of the privilege spectrums. 

Curtis's desire to ameliorate some of the effects of these differences led him to work in academic enrichment programming, mentoring, research in a social psychology lab, and most recently as a member of the guidance counseling team at a Boston Public School. Curtis brings a spirit grounded in social justice that directs many of his conversations with students and colleagues.

Curtis earned a B.S. from Tufts University and a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In his spare time, Curtis enjoys weight training and spending quality time filled with great food and lots of laughs with those close to him.


Crystal Yang

Bay Area Senior Development Associate

Crystal is driven by her deep belief in education equity and leveling the playing field for all.

Having spent the last three years working as the Special Events Manager at her alma mater, a private school in San Francisco, Crystal is excited to finally bridge her passion for youth with her professional experience in fundraising.

Proudly born and raised in the Bay Area, Crystal got her B.A. from UCLA and her M.A. in Education from Mills College. In her free time, you can find her discovering new eats, hiking the best trails, struggling with the N line, or rooting intensely for her three favorite Bay Area teams: the Giants, the Niners, and the Warriors.