Reading about the current unrest on college campuses around race and diversity issues has made me pause and reflect on the last 25 years of working with low-income youth as founder of Summer Search.  To date Summer Search is in 7 different offices and has empowered over 5,000 youth.  99% of our students graduate from high school and about 93% go on to college.  80% graduate from college.

We have found that private colleges are eager for our students and often are willing to offer full tuition scholarships.  Why?  And why do so many of our students graduate from college when they come from schools where only 9 to 11 % of their peers do?  I think the answer lies in three words: Exposure, Recognition, Gratitude.

Exposure.  Summer Search students have the opportunity to live with students from affluent backgrounds for extended periods of time on challenging programs like wilderness expeditions where they have to all come together as a group.  They learn about each other and often come to understand that we are all the same underneath—flawed human beings with universal worries and fears.grit_girl

Exposure to different types of people and experiences is the key to a more open mind.  Many of those programs like Outward Bound, NOLS, and Deer Hill offer scholarships independently to interested and motivated low income youth.

Tune in next week for Recognition.