It may be summer, but SEED's college-preparatory work takes place year-round! 2017 SEED College Boot Camp will take place Wednesday, August 16 - Friday, August 18th at The SEED School of Maryland. This event is mandatory for all rising SEED DC and SEED MD seniors. Please fill out the registration form below by August 4th.
Since its inception, professional development training has been a key ingredient in SEED’s College Transition & Success model. Over this past weekend, 40 recent SEED DC and SEED MD graduates gathered for the 12th annual SEED Graduate Institute (SGI), where they networked, gained financial wisdom, de-stressed, and reconnected with one another. Click on the gallery below to see some highlights from this weekend!
SEED graduates started the weekend with two informational sessions on financial planning and then moved on to a range of other topics including resumé writing and crafting an elevator pitch. After lunch, they practiced interviewing with volunteers from a range of professional backgrounds, and finally put their freshly sharpened skills to the test at a networking mixer. All of our sessions were centered around this year's theme, "Building The Best You." Before heading out to put these new skills to use, though, we made sure to give the grads a hands-on lesson in one of the most important professional skill of all: managing stress. Yogi Tierra Briscoe led the grads in a free-spirited yoga class designed to highlight holistic methods of stress reduction.
Even with all that hard work, though, the grads managed to have more than a little fun catching up with members of their SEED family, like Deja Pendleton, Essence Fullwood, and Olatunji Coleman from the SEED DC Class of 2016, pictured below.
Our sincere gratitude to all participating staff, graduates, volunteers, and sponsoring partners JBG and BB&T: together we’re #BuildingTheBestYou!
June is our favorite month of the year at SEED--because it's the moment when all of our students' hard work has paid off. The joy in the air was infectious at both SEED DC and SEED Maryland as our two Classes of 2017 completed the first step of their educational journeys. We are deeply proud of our students' commitment to their education, and honored by our families' trust in us.
On June 3rd, SEED Maryland was treated to not one, but two extraordinary commencement speakers: Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, the first black female neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins University and a first-generation American, and Alma Powell, longtime SEED supporter and founder of America's Promise, an educational alliance devoted to our nation's youth. Valedictorian Jackie Ndayizeye described the nurturing and inspiring environment that SEED had provided her for her, and Jeremiah Paige (SEED Maryland Class of 2015) presented the SEED Graduate Achievement Award to Harry and Beth Lebow. The award goes to any outstanding member of the community who exemplifies SEED's values and is selected annually by SEED's graduates; Harry and Beth Lebow are deeply dedicated and passionate SEED Maryland supporters.
Two weeks later, on June 17th, it was SEED DC's turn to graduate its 13th class of seniors. D.C.'s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton reminded students that "nothing is impossible," and reminded them of the power of their SEED degrees--and the college degrees that they'll soon begin to earn.
Valedictorian Ahmad Hassan discussed how SEED has already helped his family fulfill their potential--his brother Dahir (SEED DC '13) just graduated from Howard University last month and his sister Maryam (SEED DC '15) just completed her second year at Virginia Tech. Once again, students were presented with numerous scholarships, awards, and accolades, and graduate Keyana White (SEED DC '12, Trinity Washington University '17) presented the Graduate Achievement Award to Tyrhee Moore (SEED DC '11, West Virginia University '15) for his incredible achievements in the great outdoors and his service to the community.
In addition, SEED DC's Graduate Achievement Award was renamed in honor of Letia Naylor (SEED DC '06), who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, and Letia's mother Lynnette came to the podium to help with the presentation of the award.
Summer is a critical time for students and educators. It’s when summer melt strikes—when up to 40% of low-income, first-generation students who are planning to attend college lose steam and never start classes. It’s prime time for The SEED Foundation’s college success advisors, who help our graduates navigate the pitfalls that cause summer melt. And it’s prime time for you, our supporters—because from now until June 30th, all new, increased, and renewed gifts will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous supporter.
How does SEED ensure that our graduates—80% of whom are first-generation college-bound—don’t succumb to summer melt? By developing meaningful relationships with each graduate, so that when obstacles arise, they have an arsenal of experts on speed dial.
Take Tiffani, SEED DC ’16, who had registered at Penn State-Hazleton last summer: “My advisor warned me that it wasn’t my most affordable option, but my heart was set on Penn State. I appealed my financial aid award and tried to get additional funding, but by mid-August, none of it had come through. I was going to put college off for a year. But my advisor put everything into perspective for me—like how my existing scholarships and financial aid would be affected, and how much time I could lose. They urged me to go with the Plan B that we’d come up with earlier in the summer. I contacted Radford University that day. With SEED’s help getting everything in order, I started classes there a week later. Now, I’m finishing my freshman year with a 3.2 GPA.”
SEED’s college success work is entirely funded by private donors like you. Please click here to support students like Tiffani to and through college. All new, increased, and renewed gifts will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous supporter.*
Thank you for helping first-generation college students like Tiffani take their seats on campus. The SEED Foundation can’t eradicate summer melt without you.
*Questions about the terms of the donor match? Please reach out to Alisha Huntley, Director of Development Operations and Annual Giving, at 202.785.4123 x58 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure your gift will qualify.
Hardworking, driven, kind, helpful, community-oriented, forward-thinking--these are just a few of the words that were used to describe the 2017 winners of The SEED Foundation Scholarship during the annual Scholarship Reception on Thursday. Seniors from both SEED DC and SEED Maryland gathered at SEED DC, where they were presented with a certificate affirming their scholarships, as well as encouragement, reflections, and well-wishes from the SEED community.
During the reflection period, both heads of school--Jon Tucker of SEED Maryland and Mecha Inman of SEED DC--described how proud they were of each student and how inspiring it had been to watch them grow over the last seven years. SEED Scholarship committee member Jay Carmel applauded the winners for their hard work and impressive scholarship applications. Donor Joe Rice shared a person anecdote about his own college experience and exhorted the SEED seniors to prioritize their studies over having fun.
But perhaps the highlight of the event were reflections from the students' parents. One parent recalled the frustration of waiting for her child to be pulled from the SEED waitlist, and how excited they were when it finally happened. Another mother still recalled her child's number in the SEED lottery--seven years after it happened. Families expressed profound gratitude for all of the opportunities SEED had provided their students over the years.
The SEED Foundation Scholarship is a $3,000 college scholarship, renewable for up to four years. Only students who attend SEED endorsed colleges are eligible to receive the scholarship. SEED students participate in a rigorous process throughout their junior year to receive the scholarship, including a written application, letters of recommendation, and in-person interview with the Scholarship committee.
We congratulate all our scholarship winners and can't wait to visit them on campus next fall!
On Thursday, May 11, more than 200 members of the greater Baltimore and SEED Maryland communities gathered to celebrate the Class of 2021. Grace, a graduating SEED Maryland senior, and Ralph, a SEED Maryland graduate and freshman at Salisbury University, led the festivities. They described a few of the highlights of their own SEED experiences: Grace participated in a number of once-in-a-lifetime exposure opportunities, including the SARE program at Johns Hopkins; Ralph shared how support from his CTS advisor helped him secure his full scholarship funding.
Grace and Ralph also introduced keynote speaker and longtime SEED Maryland board member Kevin Liles, who spoke about the importance of being your best in every aspect of your life. After dinner, audience members also enjoyed performances by the SEED Maryland Glee Club, singing a toe-tapping rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," and a coming-of-age themed performance by the SEED Maryland African Drumming and Dance Club.
Another major highlight of the evening was the Presentation of the Class of 2021 (so called because that is the year they plan to graduate from college). Each member of the SEED Maryland senior class introduced themselves and shared their plans: where they are enrolling in the fall and what they plan to study. It was a wonderful opportunity for SEED Maryland's supporters to see where seven years of a college preparatory education can lead.
We are deeply grateful to the generous sponsors who made this celebration possible: Whiting-Turner; The Eliasberg Family Foundation, Inc.; T. Rowe Price; Butler Security, Inc.; Cole Roofing Company; Baltimore Janitorial Supply; Marks, Thomas Architects; Aladdin; Constellation; Bakery Express; and Pfister Energy.
Throughout the month of April, SEED seniors celebrated their acceptances; compared financial award letters; and sought guidance from CTS advisors, school staff, and families. On Monday, May 1st, SEED DC seniors proudly announced their college decisions as part of Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)'s College Signing Day celebration. (See the photo gallery above for highlights!)
SEED seniors revealed their future plans to the thunderous applause of their educators, friends, and the school's freshman, sophomore, and junior classes--inspiring them to follow their college-bound example. This coming fall, they will pack their bags for Temple University, North Carolina A&T, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, and the University of Rochester, among others.
SEED DC's seniors are already bursting with college pride!
SEED Maryland seniors also have a lot to celebrate. Many of them were inspired and impressed during a SEED-led trip to Salisbury University during an Accepted Students Day event, and are excited to stay relatively close to home as they embark on the next phase of their education. SEED Maryland students will also be attending Hood College, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point (a SEED partner), UMBC, and Michigan State, among others.
We wanted to show all of SEED Maryland's college acceptances, but we ran out of pennants!
Last week, SEED Maryland juniors visited six colleges across Florida and Alabama, including liberal arts, agriculture, private, public, and religious-affiliated colleges/universities.
In addition to their SEED Maryland chaperones and staff, the students were also accompanied by SEED Foundation advisors Liz and Jordan. This gave them an opportunity learn more about the services they can expect from CTS when they graduate from SEED, as well as the chance to bond with their future advisors.
As part of their visits, they were able to meet with faculty and current students, attend information sessions, tour the campuses, and eat at the dining halls. They also learned about merit-based scholarship, financial aid applications, and college matching--all of which helped them begin to draft their college lists.
The junior college tour is a deeply influential experience for SEED Maryland students, since historically, 90% of them apply to at least one school they visited during the tour. This year, SEED Maryland students were presented with a list of right fit colleges from across the country, and collectively decided they wanted to visit the Florida/Alabama region. Ultimately, the six universities they saw were:
- The University Of Florida, Gainesville, FL
- Florida A&M, Tallahassee, FL
- Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL
- Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL
- Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
To read about the SEED DC college tour, click here.
In 1998, The SEED School of Washington, D.C. broke ground in the educational field as the nation's first college-preparatory, public boarding school. A few years later, the school established Founders day to honor Raj Vinnakota and Eric Adler, as well as the other leaders whose tireless efforts created and sustain this home-away-from-home for hundreds of students.
After some opening remarks from Head of School Mecha Inman, senior Johnae sang the Black National Anthem and ninth-grader Kavon led the school in a recitation of the SEED pledge. SEED Foundation CEO Lesley Poole--who was the second person hired to work for SEED in 1997--described her personal history and urged students to use their personal agency to propel their own futures. SEED graduate Alexis (SEED DC '10, Trinity Washington University '15) shared some of her favorite reminiscences from her school days and thanked the staff members who helped shape her life.
Following a longstanding Founders Day tradition, two seniors were presented with the Vinnakota Award, which recognizes academic and personal growth and achievement. Additionally, three members of the SEED DC staff received commemorative SEED chairs in honor of their four year anniversary serving the school.
Thanks to a new partnership with Constellation Energy, our SEED Maryland sixth-graders have a new opportunity to hone their reading and math skills while visiting one of the most beautiful new offices in Baltimore. Every week, 18 students take a bus to the Harbor-facing facility, where the Constellation staff tutor them. Each session is small--one tutor per two students--so that students can get the individualized attention they need to strengthen their academic skills. We are deeply grateful to our Constellation Energy volunteers for the time they take each week--and for the glimpse they give our students into the professional and business world.
Twenty years ago, SEED was just an idea that was beginning to bloom in the minds of our cofounders, Raj Vinnakota and Eric Adler. Now, it is a network of public boarding schools serving more than 900 students and nearly 400 graduates. Eric's vision and tenacity were most recently recognized by his alma mater, Wharton, which awarded him the Social Impact Award. An excerpt from his interview with them can be read below; read the full transcript to learn about the source of Eric's inspiration, how they convinced their first donors to support them, and the biggest challenges they faced.
This is a how-to story for someone who wants to start something big, fast. Eric Adler, WG’96, created a public boarding school 20 years ago, for kids from economically disadvantaged single-parent and no-parent homes, chosen by lottery without regard to academic talents. Now, with 355 students in D.C., 400 students in Baltimore and 180 students in South Florida, SEED students enter in the sixth grade and board until 12th grade. About 95% of the students at SEED schools graduate from high school, and 94% attend college.
He did all this while winning a fight against pancreatic cancer and then dealing with its complicated aftermath, including 35 surgeries last year.
Eric, within 18 months, you conceived an idea, lobbied Congress to amend a law, raised millions of dollars and opened a public charter boarding school for inner-city youth. How were you able to move that quickly?
Well, the arrogance of youth is incredibly powerful. My Co-Founder Rajiv Vinnakota, and I, we both had this idea for a public boarding school. If we’d been a little older, we might have thought twice about it. But we didn’t. We just did it. We met on February 11, 1997 and agreed, “Let’s open the school in September 1998 and back-map it to today for everything that has to get done.” We wrote it out on this whiteboard and said, “Well, we need a facility starting here. We won’t have the money until here, so that’ll leave three months. OK, so we’ll just build in three months.” Again, not knowing anything was really useful.
We’re on our third school now, and it’s so much harder to do because we have board members we have to bring along with us, and we have schools that already exist that have to be protected. There’s a real freedom in having nothing to lose, and nobody to tell you, “No.” You just go and you do it.
Why were you inspired to start SEED?
Before attending Wharton, I taught high school physics at St. Paul’s, a prep school outside of Baltimore. I taught mostly white upper-middle-class kids who were paying, not kids of color from the inner city who came in with varying levels of academic preparation.
One kid from the inner city had received a scholarship, and he commuted 90 minutes to school. Nobody was at home to cook his meals or iron his clothes, or make sure his homework was done. He had a huge disadvantage, and it showed. That’s when I had the idea. But I didn’t have the tools to do it, so I just tabled the idea. Read on.
Is it better to attend a public college or a private one? A historically black college/university or a predominantly white institution? A small college or a big university? At SEED, we know that the answer varies from student to student, and we want them to see a wide cross-section of universities so that they can determine what their own "right-fit" college looks like.
SEED DC 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-graders had exactly that opportunity during their recent whirlwind college trip to Atlanta. Over the course of three jam-packed days, our high-schoolers visited Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Spelman and Morehouse Colleges (the young ladies and men split up to visit these single-sex colleges.) In addition to tours, information sessions, and meals on campus, students were able to get a taste of what each university had to offer. At Georgia Tech, students met with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; at Georgia State University, students learned about GSU's many connections to local companies, particularly business and film.
Though the student participants of this trip all hailed from SEED DC, it was truly a network-wide project. SEED DC's new College Counselor, Dr. Christopher Vick, organized and led the trip; students were also accompanied by Liz Middleton, the Foundation's College Success Advisor, and Mildred Harris, SEED Maryland's College Counselor, as well as several other SEED DC staff. In addition, the tour of Spelman College was arranged by the Foundation's College Success Manager, Joi Baker--a proud Spelman alumna herself.
During their short breaks between college stours, SEED students were also able to squeeze in some Atlanta flavor: they explored the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, visited the birthplace and burial site of Martin Luther King, Jr., and visited the Georgia Aquarium. For some students, it was their first time in an aquarium--but most of them were still brave enough to touch the critters in the Touch Tank! Check out the photo album below for more highlights from Atlanta.
SEED Miami students expanded their horizons and gained a stronger appreciation for their community as they explored the state-of-the-art Perez Art Museum Miami. The museum, which is dedicated to modern and contemporary international art, is located in the heart of downtown Miami. Students particularly appreciated the opportunity to experience the three-dimensional exhibits and creating their own artistic masterpieces. We are deeply grateful to SEED supporter Dorothy Terrell for making this wonderful opportunity possible!
Singing, dancing, giant beach balls, sharing feelings, and lots of hugs: these were just a few of the highlights of The SEED School of Maryland's two Challenge Day events, which took place last Wednesday and Thursday. The program shows students how to "be the change they want to see" in the world by teaching them positive coping mechanisms for life stresses and demonstrating the tangible benefits of compassion.
By sharing their hopes and dreams for the future, as well as some of their current concerns, students got to know one another--and their educators--on a whole new level. In addition to many SEED Maryland staff and a SEED Maryland parent, members of The SEED Foundation and SEED Miami staffs also participated in Challenge Day, making this program a truly community-wide bonding experience.
How do college dorms compare to SEED dorms? What SEED programs were the most helpful in preparing our graduates for college? And what exactly does CTS support "to and through college" mean?
These were just a few of the questions that our graduates answered for 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-graders at SEED DC and SEED Maryland during our annual graduate panels. Each panel featured graduates from both SEED schools who currently attend (or graduated from) a wide range of colleges--HBCUs and PWIs; small schools and large; private and public institutions; located in rural and urban areas. This gave SEED students the opportunity to learn about the incredible array of educational opportunities available to them, and how important it is that they "thoroughly research all the universities" that they are interested in, as panelist Eriel Holloway (SEED DC '12, Alabama State University '16) exhorted them to do.
Other SEED graduate nuggets of advice include:
- The best academic preparation for college are SEED's AP courses--take advantage of them!
- SEED students should all study abroad while they have the chance, as SEED makes studying abroad more convenient, and more affordable, than many universities do
- CTS advisors will answer graduates' texts day and night, visit them on campus, and have even helped graduates gain additional scholarship funds from their universities
- Students should start networking and interning in their desired fields right away, to gain the connections they'll need for their future careers
And above all:
- "Just go to class. I know it's cliche, but just do it."
The 2016 CTS Annual SEED Graduate Bowling party had the largest turnout ever, with graduates from both SEED DC and SEED Maryland attending, and representing our very class (2004) up to our current college freshmen (2016) . Graduates had an awesome time catching up with one another--especially those who were home from out of town--and getting to know graduates from other SEED classes and SEED schools.
It was also an awesome opportunity for them to reconnect with their advisors and friends on the CTS team! The bowling party is one of our favorite events of the year, and we're delighted that our graduates feel the same way. Special shout-out to Ayodele (SEED DC '12, UPenn '16) for getting the word and organizing the logistics--thank you for making the Bowling Party such a success!
The SEED School of Washington, D.C.'s college acceptance season kicked off with a bang: a full-tuition scholarship, courtesy of the Posse Foundation! Lakeya, a senior at SEED DC, earned the prestigious Posse scholarship to attend the University of Rochester next fall.
The Posse Foundation was established in 1989 and identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential. They offer those students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams (Posses) of 10 students. Posse scholars also receive four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships to one of Posse's 57 partner universities.
Lakeya follows in the footsteps of other SEED graduates who have received Posse scholarships, including DaQuan, a senior at University of Wisconsin - Madison. The CTS team can't wait to visit her at the University of Rochester for her official College Outreach Visit next fall!
The SEED School of Washington, D.C.'s Falcon Theatre brought the house to their feet on Thursday evening with their rendition of "Bring It On: The Musical." Supporters, friends, and students from their sister school SEED Maryland attended the show at THEARC as our guests, thanks to the generosity of Eileen Shields-West and Robin West.
The SEED Falcon Theatre has won numerous accolades, including the opportunity to perform in Edinburgh, Scotland, where they will represent the United States at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. On Thursday, they regaled the crowd with two and a half hours of cheering, singing, dancing, and of course, a giant leprechaun.
After the show, Myiah (SEED DC '16, current Georgetown freshman) distributed flowers to her former fellow castmembers and discussed the impact of SEED in her own life. Guests were also treated to a meet-and-greet with the cast and a light reception after the show. We are so grateful to everyone who braved the traffic to share this wonderful production with us!
On Saturday, SEED DC 9th- and 10th-grade students and families caught a glimpse of their future on a college campus thanks to a visit to the University of Pennsylvania. The trip was led by the SEED Parent College Prep Academy, a partnership between SEED DC, the Foundation's College Transition & Success team, and the Flamboyan Foundation.
Students and families met SEED staff bright and early at SEED DC to hit the road. After they arrived in Philly, they were treated to a personal tour led by SEED staff and SEED DC graduate Ayodele (SEED DC '12, UPenn '16). After lunch on campus, they learned what to expect from the college application process at "The College Process 101" workshop and about the costs associated with college during a Financial Aid Workshop.
One of the highlights of the visit was the SEED graduate panel, featuring four recent SEED graduates attending colleges in Philadelphia--Olatunji, SEED DC ’16 and Bijion, SEED DC ’16 and current freshmen at Temple University; Faith, SEED MD ’15 and sophomore at Villanova University; and Siri, SEED MD ’16 and freshman at Drexel University. We love when our community members have the opportunity to learn from each others' challenges and successes in college.
Keep your eyes peeled for the SEED Parent College Prep Academy's next college tour, slated from Spring 2017!
On November 29, The SEED Foundation joined more than 45,000 non-profit organizations worldwide to celebrate Giving Tuesday, an international day of philanthropy. We asked our community to join us in supporting the work of the College Transition & Success team, who just finished visiting 108 SEED graduates at 43 colleges in 14 states, for a total of 370 on-campus advising hours.
To make your gifts go even further, and to demonstrate their commitment to our graduates, the SEED Foundation's own leadership team pledged to match every donation made on Giving Tuesday, up to $10,000.
As donations flowed in from graduates, colleagues, former staff, and friends, one supporter was so inspired that she pledged to match another $5,000 of donations.
The response from our community was overwhelming: together, your donations came to $21,394--totaling $36,394 with the matching funds.
We are truly humbled by your confidence in our mission, our work, and our graduates. Thank you so much for your friendship and your support.