For many low-income students, college is a dream that's too far out of reach. But a nationwide organization is working to close the opportunity gap and give kids the support they need to succeed.
Stessie Jermaine, a senior at the O'Bryant School in Boston, spent a life-changing three weeks in Peru this summer.
"I got to work on a corn farm, I got to work with other students, I got to help with doll making," Stessie said. "I always knew that I did like traveling. Summer Search allowed me to really really travel."
Summer Search is a youth development organization that's been in Boston for 20 years. Its goal is to help students from low-income backgrounds grow the skills and character to succeed in college.
"When students enter Summer Search, they already aspire to be college educated leaders but they have obstacles facing them that could get in their way," said Liz Marino, Executive Director of Summer Search Boston.
Marino says the organization partners with high schools to find students who'd be a good fit. The program begins in sophomore year, with a full scholarship to a summer wilderness expedition. The following year, students work with their mentors to choose a summer experience in line with their interests and needs.
"All of the trips take students dramatically out of their comfort zone and push them to develop their leadership skills, understand the world in different ways, and ultimately see themselves as agents of change," said Marino.
For Stessie, those trips -- combined with weekly mentoring sessions -- have put her on the right path.
"We speak a lot about giving herself space to appreciate the success she's had," said Stessie's mentor, Nate Campbell.
Summer Search doesn't stop after high school. Students receive college support and career counseling. Ninety-five percent of Summer Search students are the first generation in their family to go to college.