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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Summer Science Program

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, General Science, Higher Education, Physical & Earth Sciences, Technology

Mission: SSP’s mission is to inspire exceptionally talented and motivated high school students to accelerate their intellectual and social development. Our college-level, residential program immerses students in a challenging science curriculum with team-based, hands-on research to solve a central scientific problem. Since 1959, we have created a cultural environment of excellence, collaboration, and creativity, and we push our students beyond anything they have previously experienced. We measure our performance by the number of alumni who look back at SSP as a formative experience and support the program for future generations.

Results: Life-changing!

Target demographics: High school juniors, gifted & talented in math & science.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 144

Geographic areas served: worldwide

Programs: Four programs in 2020: SSP in Astrophysics at Univ. of Colorado Boulder and New Mexico Tech in Socorro. SSP in Biochemistry at Purdue Univ. and UC San Diego

Community Stories

250 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Even during COVID times, SSP was truly the experience of a lifetime! The curriculum and teaching is extraordinary, almost as much as the people I never would have gotten to meet if not for this amazing program. I'll never forget the memories and experiences I had, thanks to SSP.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

At the Summer Science Program, I learned the meaning of dn.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Truly changed the way I approach research, science and learning! The best 5 weeks of my life and an amazing experience that I’m so incredibly grateful to have been a part of.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was the best five weeks of my life! I just learnt so much, both academically and socially.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was everything I expected it to be and more - I was academically challenged in many ways and met people who really understood me. I learned so much every day, and I definitely look back at the program fondly.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in the Summer Science Program in biochemistry, and it was the most exceptional, life-changing experience that I have ever had! It really improved me as a person on so many levels, including academically as well as socially and emotionally. I was so blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of this, and I really want to underscore how worthy of a program it is to support.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was an awesome experience. I highly recommend!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Without a doubt, SSP has truly been a life-changing experience. SSP has given me a summer I’ll never forget.

William L.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Pioneered my passion for science. A 6-star rating should be invented for this nonprofit.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was an amazing 5 weeks of intense academics, social interaction, and learning in almost every sense of the word. I loved working with the amazing staff, TAs, and participants on the problem sets and research projects.

Gerson Esquivel G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was an amazing experience. The best educational experience of my life so far.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great summer program and very organized and well-run. Highly recommend all science-interested high school students to participate.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is truly the educational experience of a lifetime!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program was the educational experience of a lifetime. I would be unable to participate in this program without financial aid, so I’m incredibly grateful to all of the past alumni and donors that made it possible for me

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP helped bring together so many people from different backgrounds. Even though it was online, we all had a fun time. Many of us are still in touch, and I hope to meet my fellow researchers in college and beyond!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Completely life changing educational experience - something that will stay with me for many years to come!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Attending the Summer Science Program is a phenomenal experience that provides an enriching environment for any academically driven high school student. The staff and teachers at SSP provided a welcoming environment where each student is given the resources to thrive, despite being challenged by the engaging curriculum and the research project that makes the program worthwhile.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SSP is one of the best educational programs out there! I learned a lot about astrophysics, calculus, and Python. But I also learned a lot about collaboration, how to manage my time, and how to handle challenges. The faculty are very supporting and create a wonderful learning community!

2 Feli X.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SSP gave me so much this summer. Even though it was virtual, I still enjoyed our project and our lectures and our community a lot! Most importantly, though, it built my confidence as not just a science, math, and programming student, but as a whole person. I’d highly recommend this program to any high school sophomores and juniors interested — it really is an experience of a lifetime.

Julianne Y.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SSP Biochemistry is a well planned immersive experience for the students, with enriching field trips to industrial labs as well. It's a really great program to get an idea of what a career in research is like. Also, the people you work with for 6 weeks become some of the closest friends you'll ever have!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I could not have thought of a better way to spend my summer. Although initially daunting, the prospect of spending five and a half weeks studying and practicing astrophysics soon became one of the highlights of my academic career, as well as my life. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to challenge themselves with undergraduate level academics as well as forge bonds that last a lifetime.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP gave me the best experience of a lifetime. I have learned so much both academically and socially. There is no other way I would rather had spent my summer. All my classmates are amazing people too.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended SSP Biochem at Purdue in 2019, and this amazing experience totally changed my life for the better! I was able to connect with peers who were passionate about science and learned a lot from them. SSP also made me realize how much I loved doing research and allowed me to take a closer look at how research was conducted at a college level. During lectures, lab sessions, assignments, and other fun activities, I had the best time and loved every moment. Thank you SSP!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience was absolutely amazing! I highly encourage anyone who is on the fence about whether or not SSP is right for them to apply. It’s worth it!

(Also if you are low-income, don’t worry! There is very generous financial aid. Some participants pay nothing!)

Debbie R.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in 1969- first class that included girls! Incredible and heartwarming that this program continues to exist and expand over the years. Best wishes for this year's group and future SSPers.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization and summer program to introduce the brightest minds of their generation to fun and challenging astrophysics research

Jessica W.6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Still the best experience of my life. I miss the people so so so so so much.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The best experience of my entire life. I am so, so, so grateful for being able to attend SSP. May SSP stay this awesome, forever!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Spectacular experience. Challenging yet accessible topics combined with the instruction of amazing professors and collaboration with brilliant peers.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for my time at SSP last year. Not only was I introduced to the research process, but I met so many truly amazing people. I miss it so much!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Such an accepting, supportive, collaborative, compassionate group of students and educators. I love SSP and I am so grateful of the opportunities they have given me.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is not an exaggeration to say SPP was a life changing experience because SSP allowed me to confirm my passion to pursue science in the future.

1 Cam W.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of SSP '19 at CU Boulder. SSP was one of the most fun and transformative experiences in my life. Initially, I was skeptical that I would enjoy myself with no computer and classes 6 days a week. And while I can't say that I was always thrilled to wake up and go to lecture after a long night of observing, I can say that in the end that's not what I remember. I remember the great friends and times I had, whether it was playing midnight soccer after OD reports were submitted, watching anime in Arnett, or practicing for the talent show. Also, you can't beat the experiences of using the telescopes and imaging or just stargazing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Life changing experience that made me passionate to not only continue in science but also to collaborate with great people.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Extremely well-organized and rigorous experience. The staff really care about the students. Would highly recommend to anyone that wants to take advantage of such an excellent opportunity in STEM research!!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Best summer of my life! Spending 6 weeks with the coolest students around the world immersed in scientific research was an eye opening experience. The field trips were very fun and memorable, and the staff were great! Financial aid helped my family immensely, and I wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise.

1 Lucci A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

One of the best experiences I had. Very challenging but also very worth it.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

At first I was apprehensive about attending, but I'm glad I did. SSP was one of the most formative and fun experiences of my life. Despite long working hours, it was easy to bond with my peers and connect over how tired we were.

2 Manuel G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

For six weeks I got to spend every moment of every day doing what I love with people I love. I absolutely love astronomy and I already knew it was what I wanted to pursue as a career, but this only solidified these feelings. I also used to be incredibly shy before coming here, but I got to meet all sorts of people who understood me and who shared these same passions and quirks as I did, and who all loved learning. I already know that the people I met here will be lifelong friends, and I love how supportive and loving of each other we all are, whether it be socially, academically, or otherwise. I really can't put into words how grateful I am for this experience, and I already know that I'm going to try my hardest to be a TA when I'm older.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was not only an intellectually invigorating research experience, it was a camp where I was able to meet some of the best people ever. In 39 days I was able to develop friendships of equal caliber to those of which I have been developing back home for the past 7 years. (@SSPpurdue)

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

For six weeks I worked with a team of 2 other amazing students under 2 equally amazing instructors to do real science. You can’t really get that experience anywhere else as a high school student.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I gained a newfound love for the natural sciences, found out more about my capabilities, and met some of the most vibrant and interesting peers in my life through this program. Words alone cannot even come close to expressing my experience here.

SSP will give you a genuine chance to explore and ponder the night sky, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and programming, but most importantly, yourself.

[SSP Astro @NMT]

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Summer Science Program in Astrophysics is a 5.5 week immersion into true experimental science and research. One observes, programs, and calculates the orbital trajectory of an asteroid and writes a paper on their findings, all while learning cosmology, orbital mechanics, optics, observational astronomy, and quantum mechanics. It was a transformative experience for me, not only for its rigor but also for its lessons in collaboration, experimentation, and perseverance.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP has definitely been the most unforgettable and rewarding experience of my lifetime. Not only did it allow me to get exposed to research and “real science”, it introduced me to 35 of the most intelligent and unique people I have ever met. Thank you SSP for this life changing summer :) (Biochem @UCSD)

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP allowed me to meet 35 other bright individuals around the world and across America. Providing not just a challenging intellectual experience, it has allowed us to become a tight knit community working towards a common goal. Even after hours in the lab, you'll somehow still have energy to stay up and socialize with your amazing peers. SSP is as life changing as it says, but you won't know until you experience it. Thank you SSP, and all my fellow participants who made it a truly unforgettable summer. (Biochem @UCSD)

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The best experience a high school science-oriented student could ever have! It was the best 6 weeks of my life, the most enriching summer I’ve spent, and I made friends with every participant. Working together to solve challenging problems, such as combining our individual knowledges to design a unique assay or lab report, was so exciting as we progressed onwards. SSP really nurtured a very positive environment, so much so that I think I really found my place at SSP and within the scientific community. Thank you so much for the memories!

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands down the educational experience of a lifetime. I first learned about SSP as a freshman and was amazed about all SSP had to offer - immersive research that incorporates a variety of fields, exposure to exciting topics in STEM, an environment that focuses on growth and collaboration rather than cutthroat competition, and a wonderful community of students, faculty, and alumni overall. It’s been 4 weeks since SSP ended, and I am reminded each day of how fortunate I was to have this opportunity. SSP is unique in that it combines the best aspects of a research internship (hands on work, dealing with roadblocks with real data and overcoming them, having a final product that can impact the scientific community) with a traditional educational summer program (lectures to learn new topics so you truly understand the research not just do work, experience of friendship, group activities). The curriculum and research at SSP is very well organized and methodical, with clear assignments and goals for each of the 6 weeks, ensuring that everyone is aware and on track. Thus, even though there was a lot to do, I quickly realized that it was achievable given dedicated effort (which wasn’t hard since it was all so engaging and time flew by). From observing the beautiful Boulder sky at midnight to thinking about and rejoicing over problem sets together to writing the final orbit determination Python program to all the fun challenges and field trips, there really was not a single dull moment at SSP. The faculty went above and beyond in ensuring that we all were successful and enjoying, both on the academic and social front. I am fascinated and immensely thankful as to how 7 individuals can work so hard while bringing unparalleled enthusiasm to the table each day and night. These 6 weeks have provided me a strong foundation in the research process, piqued my interest in new topics of science I had not looked into before, and given the gift of acceptance and joy in an amazing group of peers. Another aspect that definitely stands out about SSP as a nonprofit is its alumni culture. The alumni of this program are incredibly dedicated to continuing to serve its mission, coming back as TAs, hosting guest lectures, and contributing to its sustainability so that many generations ahead can experience the work of art that is SSP. SSP exceeded my expectations in all aspects, and I am extraordinarily grateful to be able to continue to be a member of the SSP community for many years.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Oh man, where do I begin with SSP...

The official goal of the program is to determine the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid using observational data from a telescope that you obtained with your research team, which they assign in groups of 3 random participants. However, it is so, so much more than that.

SSP is completely centered around learning as much science and math as possible and building great relationships with incredible people. Although it varies a little by each participant, me and another guy in the lunch line did the math and realized that we could clock in 16-17 hours of work per day for the first three weeks and a possible 18 hours during the last three due to fixing bugs (these numbers vary very wildly for any given day, of course, because sometimes we have field trips or can sleep in. But you better beware the 18 hour day, which is working all day except for dinner.) Although it is very tough, we learn so much. From observational astronomy to vector calculus to quantum mechanics to Papa Gauss’s orbit determination method to Dr. Rangstorf’s world-famous astrology lectures, the problem sets and three hour lectures are going to simply teach you more than you can take in even if you are a super genius.

Speaking of which, practically everyone there is a super genius, and they still couldn’t learn everything. Some people won international science competitions (I think?), another built their own telescope, another takes really cool pictures with their telescope, another did a research project about how to place recharging wells in Haiti, another makes something crazy like Titanium Dioxide Carbon Microtubules, another derives their own equations for how a rocket combustion chamber works, and many more kept quiet about their skills because the entire campus was a “no flex zone.” They are such great people, too. Super nice. My research team and I still perform research outside of SSP, and we plan on doing a lot more science together.

Bottom line, SSP is absolutely phenomenal, but I just wish more people could go. If you are a college reading this, email to SSP and let a group stay on your campus and use your telescope for 5.5 weeks during the summer. Not only will your college get a great reputation, but it will also be in the minds of some super smart undergraduates, so they might wanna go there. Also, don’t feel discouraged if you think you can’t get in. I’m a farming boy from some hillbilly town in the part of California no one knows about (East of Modesto). I never had a Physics, coding, or any real teacher to teach me things I needed to know to get to SSP ( except AB calculus. Shoutout to Mrs. Aleksani for the sacrifice), and everything I knew was poorly self taught. I never thought that I would be able to get into SSP over prep school or rich school kids, but somehow I did. Now I have a foot in the scientific door and the best research team in the world (attached picture). For anyone thinking about going, just try. You never know if you might just get accepted. It changed my life, and it might change yours, too.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The summer science program is by far the best research experience I have ever had - over 39 days I made friends, did actual science, and learned from two extraordinary professors, 4 TAs, a wonderful site director, and a multitude of world class researchers and scientists. If you are thinking about applying, do it. I thought I had no chance of getting in, but I did. The benefits of this program are by far worth the time it takes to apply.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to Purdue Biochemistry and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I feel it has prepared me for college and what lies beyond.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is not only the best research program available to high schoolers, but it’s the only high caliber program with 100% financial assistance... an amazing feat.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

6 weeks and 39 days with some of the most talented and unique individuals in the world. The only regret I have is that it didn't last longer :). I'm so glad and thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in such an amazing program and conduct high impact wet-lab research. From tough days in the lab to weekends filled with entertainment, SSP was the perfect embodiment of the "work hard, play hard" mindset. I learned so much about myself and grew as a person over these intense weeks as SSP was truly a life-changing experience for me.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was great. I loved the program and it was life changing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was one of the most life-changing and eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had as a high school student. It has given me the push forward I needed to see scientific research as a main career option.

1 Vanessa L.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is honestly the best program and I am so glad to be able to participate in it. It transformed my perspective on the world. All the professors and assistants are very genuine. They take care of all aspects of students. SSP's generous financial aid allows any passionate students to participate. I recommend SSP wholeheartedly.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is a journey of discovery, exploration, collaboration, and reflection. In just five and a half weeks, I have been immersed in science, biochemistry, and research while having fun and forging friendships with a diverse and vibrant family of SSPers. As a truly transformative experience, SSP has shaped my perspective, my goals, my aspirations, and my very own self.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Summer Science Program is more than simply a research program - it is a deeply emotional and life-changing experience. For 6 weeks, I had the privilege of working with 35 other amazing and brilliant participants. On Day 1, we entered campus as colleagues. On Day 39, we left the dorms as lifelong friends. The program exposes you to compassionate and engaging mentors, inspiring peers, and every facet of scientific research and paper-writing that can be crammed into 39 days.

Thank you for changing my life, SSP!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I consider SSP to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not only was I able to learn more about a field I so love, but also meet some of the most utterly amazing humans across the planet! The faculty is absolutely stellar; they not only care for your growth and learning experience, but also your well being. Every week, we'd abandon our little niche (comprised of Driscoll (dorms) and our computer lab) to go on "mandatory fun" excursions. As much as we wanted to complete our tasks, these trips were a gentle reminder that we still need our breaks.

SSP undoubtedly changed my life, and I am 99.9% sure that it would change yours as well (:

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP provided me with the best educational experience of my lifetime. Not only did I learn about slewing telescopes and astrometry, but I formed the bonds with the people that I now call my closest friends. SSP is something truly special; it is one of the few real idealistic havens on Earth.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm really not one to overrate things, but SSP is without a doubt the best academic and social experience I've ever had. I participated in the Biochemistry program and was challenged much more than I was accustomed to through the regular school system. The faculty was without exception kind, welcoming, and brilliant, and the students matched this as well. I honestly think I may have slightly unrealistic expectations of college now, but I can't wait to get a chance to be in a community that even bears resemblance to SSP again.
If you're on the fence about donating or applying, consider the words of an alumna: PLEASE DO.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is really op, best academic experience of my life.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was the best way I could have spent my summer. Surrounded by a supportive community who was just as interested in science as I was, I was pushed to my limits, expanding my horizons in the process. SSP made me a more confident in what I can do, and assured me of my interest in the field of STEM.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was at SSP this year at the CU Boulder campus and it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. It was really cool to get to use the telescopes and collect and analyze real data, a major step up from those simple high school labs. Although it was challenging and debugging code and processing images got somewhat frustrating at times, I loved the project. SSP definitely made me want to do more research in the future and sparked a new interest in astronomy in me, since beforehand i was mainly interested in math and physics. Not only did I get my first real taste of research, but I also got to meet so many people from across the nation and across the world who are as interested in STEM as I am and who are also high achievers academically. I felt like I could relate to them all much more than any other group of people I’ve met before. The community at SSP is great and I’ll love everyone there forever. As cheesy as it sounds, SSP was definitely the experience of a lifetime.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before going into this program, I had no idea what to expect-- but whatever picture I had in my mind was immediately blown away. Through SSP 2018 (astrophysics division), I learned how to program in Python, how to handle an observatory telescope, and how to combine physics, math, and observations. The main impact that SSP had on me, however, was the connections I made with my professors and fellow students; these connections will be with me for the rest of my life.

1 Joaccc1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Participating in SSP in Astrophysics at CU Boulder this year has been one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. The lectures, field trips, and every activity were thought through to create a strong sense of community and belonging that made SSP about much more than just academics.
This does not mean that SSP is not academically challenging, but that the experience goes beyond classes.

I could not have asked for a better way to spend my summer and I strongly encourage anyone considering applying to do so!