Crimson Summer Academy Commemorates 10-Year Anniversary

Y. Kit Wu

Clayton Spencer, current president of Bates College, speaks to the crowd in the Askwith Forums on Thursday night. Spencer was previously Harvard's Vice President for Policy and the founder of the Crimson Summer Academy.

Six alumni of the Crimson Summer Academya University program that draws local high-achieving, economically disadvantaged students to study at Harvard for six weeks each summer—reflected on memorable experiences with the program to commemorate its 10-year anniversary in a forum at the Longfellow Center Tuesday.

The program, spearheaded by A. Clayton Spencer, former vice president for policy at Harvard and current president at Bates College, provides students from families with incomes averaging $29,000 a year in Boston and Cambridge with the opportunity to channel their academic ambitions and achieve their goals of attending four-year universities.


“It’s all about aligning the students’ ambition with opportunities,” said Spencer, who is called by many the “godmother” of the Crimson Summer Academy. “I think it’s transformed their lives.”

Among others, Harvard Graduate School of Education students, University President Drew G. Faust, and teachers and administrators from Boston public schools attended the forum.

“What brought me to this program was an interest in making college and career readiness programs accessible,” said Ceri F. Evans, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “So to see a presentation like this, from an organization who’s living the mission that I want to have, is just really inspiring.”

In order to attend the academy, which spans three consecutive summers starting the students’ freshman year, the students’ families must income must not exceed $65,000 dollars annually. Each student must complete an application and an interview with one of the directors of the program.

Panelist Ellery Kirkconnell, a 2009 CSA graduate, described himself as “hungry” when asked why he thought he had been accepted into the program.

“We wanted to step outside the door. We wanted to achieve. We wanted to get out, ” he said.