In the news: Hermese Velasquez
Hermese Velasquez of Boston has completed her first year as executive director of Summer Search Boston, a nonprofit that has a successful formula for helping urban kids overcome long odds to not only finish high school, but achieve a college degree. Velasquez herself is a student alumna of Summer Search Boston, the local branch of a national nonprofit that helps low-income students become college-educated leaders who give back to their families and communities.
Summer Search Boston has worked for two decades to close the opportunity gap for low-income students by changing what they believe is possible for themselves. While approximately 25 percent of students graduating from urban U.S. high schools finish college, 71 percent of high school graduates mentored by Summer Search walk away with a college degree. Annually, Summer Search Boston serves more than, 1,000 high school and college students from Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Cambridge. The program identifies high potential-low opportunity high school sophomores and invests in a series of summer experiences combined with intensive year-round mentoring resources to support them through high school and college. It starts with free summer experiences that jolt students out of their comfort zones (think wilderness hiking for three weeks through the Utah mountains, or building a village community center in Peru) and continues to support them with focused, weekly mentoring from their sophomore year in high school through college graduation.
Before taking the reins at Summer Search Boston early this year, Velasquez worked as a nonprofit manager and community leader in the Boston area for several years. Most recently, she served as IT Project Manager with Road Scholar, a non-profit educational travel firm. With advising roles at Associate Fund Grant Committee and Lewis Family Foundation Advisory Council, Velasquez is a leader dedicated to building community cohesion and helping urban students pursue college dreams.