Our Impact: SEED’s College Transition & Success Team Aims to Freeze “Summer Melt”

TySean Ellerbe - Mt. St. Mary's U.  (3).jpg

SEED schools may be out for the summer, but we are still hard at work supporting our graduates in completing their college enrollments and heading to a right fit college in the fall. In short, our College Transition & Success team is making sure that none of our students experience “summer melt.” 

Summer melt occurs when a student is accepted to a postsecondary institution but fails to complete enrollment or attend.

“Up to one third of all students who leave high school with plans to attend college never arrive at any college campus that fall. Summer melt tends to hit low-income students hardest, as well as students who are the first in their family to go to college.”U.S. Department of Education

Here are just a few strategies we are employing to help our newly minted SEED graduates get to college this fall.

-          Upon graduation, each SEED student is paired with a College Transition & Success (CTS) advisor. CTS advisors provide the intrusive advising and support that scholars need to persist through college—from acceptance to graduation.

-          Students work with their CTS advisors to execute all the details necessary to start college, including creating a plan to pay for the first semester. Students work with their advisors to complete financial aid documents, assess their college bills, and address any financial gaps. For some students, this means forwarding scholarship award letters in order to reduce the total bill; for others, it means choosing a more affordable college or university to attend.

-          In addition to figuring out how to pay tuition and making those first payments, students work with their CTS advisors to buy or rent books and supplies. They must also submit health forms and deposits for orientation and housing. Also, CTS advisors help students secure transportation to campus for move-in days.

-          Finally, students work with their advisors to submit their final high school transcripts, a requirement for all postsecondary institutions.

“In order to ensure that our students and families are informed and have all the resources they need to be successful in college, we work diligently with them over the summer,” said Joi Baker Jones, director of College Transition & Success.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! But summer isn’t only about paying bills and completing forms, it’s also the time when The SEED Foundation Scholarship recipients receive their awards. This August, 15 scholarship recipients from the class of 2019 will receive a total of $45,000 in awards for freshman year.

“Becoming a college freshman is a lot of work,” said Ms. Baker Jones, “but the careful planning is worth it. When we visit our graduates in the fall, we love to see them settling in and prepared for campus life.”

Where Are They Now? Alexis Holloway (SEED DC ‘10, Trinity Washington University ‘15)

Alexis & Joi.jpg

“SEED is my family.” This is a common refrain we hear from our graduates.

Alexis Holloway (SEED DC ’10) shares this sentiment. For her, the bonds she has built at SEED are irreplaceable. “SEED has had a tremendous impact on me. I gained lifelong friends that I now consider family, and I was surrounded by staff who wanted the best for me. I’m proud to give back to a community that gave to me.”

Last month, Alexis’s commitment to supporting upcoming SEED graduates was honored at The SEED School of Washington, D.C.’s 2019 graduation. She received the 2019 Letia Naylor Graduate Achievement Award, which recognizes a member of the SEED community for their outstanding service, dedication to educational improvement, extraordinary professional accomplishments, and continued support of the SEED mission.

In March, she also received a special chair at SEED DC’s annual Founders Day celebration for her four years of service and dedication to the SEED community.

We recently caught up with Alexis to learn about her college journey and why she remains committed to SEED.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Trinity Washington University, where I majored in criminal justice.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

I was initially planning to attend Virginia Tech, but the financial aid package they offered wasn’t enough. With the help of my SEED college success advisor, I decided to stay in Washington, D.C., and I enrolled at Trinity Washington University. Once enrolled at Trinity, my transition from being a high school student to a college student was very smooth. Trinity offered small class sizes that were similar to my classes at SEED. I also had support from my professors and the administrative staff.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

I definitely stayed connected to SEED while in college and after I graduated. Immediately after graduating from Trinity, I was given the opportunity to work at SEED with [Assistant Head of School] Stacey Pearl, when she was director of student support services. I’ve been working at SEED ever since and have held many roles. I now serve as the school receptionist at SEED DC.

What did you do after graduating from Trinity Washington University?

I started to work at SEED right after graduation. As the school receptionist at SEED DC, I serve as the first face our students, families, staff, and supporters see. I love this role because I get to know everyone in the SEED DC community.

This year, I also served as a senior supporter for two SEED students. Working along with our college counselor, I helped each student with the college transition process and served as a mentor. I feel like I am making an impact by being there, listening, and by sharing my personal experience as a former SEED student. My hope is to inspire our students to be their best.

Meet Our Students: Harri Anna Derulos (SEED Miami ‘21) Has Big Plans to Become a Lawyer

Harri Anna is pictured above third from the right.

Harri Anna is pictured above third from the right.

Harri Anna Derulos (SEED Miami ’21) enrolled at SEED because of its track record in helping underserved students successfully get to and through college. She is determined to be the first person in her family to become a college graduate, and as an honor-roll student, she is well on her way.

A natural leader, Harri Anna served as class president for two consecutive years. During her tenure, she advocated for better catering that would offer more diverse and healthy dining options. Her strategy worked! The school now offers a greater variety of food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the students to enjoy.

Harri-Anna is one of the most dedicated students I’ve had the pleasure of working with. She’s constantly pushing herself to maintain her academic and personal successes,” said Kiara Muhammad, student life counselor at SEED Miami.

Harri Anna is also a SEED ambassador. In this role, she serves as an official student representative for The SEED School of Miami and hosts tours for prospective donors, incoming SEED students, and prospective families. Alongside her mother, who is a parent champion, Harri Anna hosted representatives from one of SEED Miami’s largest donor organizations. Her personal testimony has been vital to individuals looking to gain a better understanding of SEED’s impact.

One of Harri Anna’s most rewarding experiences has been participating in SEED Miami’s Mock Trial. This program is offered through SEED Miami’s Sparks program, which is a component of the school’s student life curriculum. In Mock Trial, Harri Anna learned about the key elements of a trial—and the U.S. legal system—through preparing for and participating in simulated trial competitions. This experience has inspired Harri Anna to want to earn a Juris Doctor after completing her undergraduate education.

We’re proud of Harri Anna’s accomplishments and excited to be a part of her continued success!

Learn more about SEED Miami’s Sparks program.

SEED Graduate Feature: Christopher Miller (SEED MD ’15, Allegheny College ‘19) Lands a Career at New York City Tech Firm

chris miller college.jpg

Graduation day at SEED is incredibly special. There’s nothing like the privilege of watching our scholars grow from eager sixth-grade students to resilient young adults who have earned their college degrees.

This year, we celebrated the achievements of 16 graduates from The SEED School of Washington, D.C., such as Nailah Gallego (SEED DC ’08, Brown University ‘12, Meharry Medical College ‘19), who secured her Doctor of Medicine degree. We also celebrated the success of our first class of college graduates from The SEED School of Maryland.  One of the SEED MD graduates is Christopher Miller (SEED MD ’15, Allegheny College ‘19). His college experience, which helped him land a career as a software engineer at a tech firm in New York City, was recently featured by Allegheny College.

Read this short interview to learn more about Chris and his journey to becoming a college graduate.

Where Are They Now? Jeremiah Paige (SEED MD ’15, Mount St. Mary’s University ’19)

Jeremiah.jpg

In July 2008, The SEED School of Maryland welcomed its first class of sixth graders. By attending Maryland’s first public college-preparatory boarding school, these students were making history.

After nearly seven years of rigorous academics, social and enrichment programs, and college exposure, every single graduate was accepted to a four-year college. But their journey with SEED wasn’t complete. To ensure that each graduate persisted through college, SEED provided each student with a college success advisor to serve as their personal advocate, mentor, and cheerleader from move-in day to graduation day.

This year, we celebrate SEED MD’s first class of college graduates and the fruition of SEED’s vision—to get our students to and through college. One of these graduates is Jeremiah Paige (SEED MD ’15). For him, SEED served as a reminder of his ability to achieve at the highest level. “SEED taught us that we could accomplish anything we wanted. This mindset pushed me to invest in and explore my passion for music as a student at Mount St. Mary’s.”

Last month, Jeremiah served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 SEED Foundation Scholarship Reception. He offered words of encouragement to SEED’s next graduating class and reminded them that wherever they go, they can find comfort in knowing that SEED is always there. Read the short interview below to learn more about Jeremiah’s college journey and where he is now.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Mount St. Mary’s University, where I majored in communications and minored in business.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition to college hit me hard. I felt like I was all alone. I couldn’t see my mother every weekend, and I was no longer with my SEED family five days a week. However, I soon realized that no matter the distance, my biological and SEED families would always be there. Mrs. Baker Jones, my SEED college success advisor, constantly reached out to me, came to visit, and even took me out to eat!

I found SEED’s approach of intrusive advising helpful when I started at Mount St. Mary’s. It was great to have someone on my side who genuinely cared about my success. If I had issues with my financial aid or classes, they were there to listen and provide support.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

I would often go and visit my former counselors at SEED MD to play basketball. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with my former classmates through SEED-sponsored events like the SEED Graduate Institute and annual bowling party.

What are your plans for the future?

As a recent college graduate, I feel that the possibilities are endless. I am interested in pursuing my passion for music. While at Mount St. Mary’s, I had the opportunity to perform all over campus and even opened for artist O.T. Genasis. These experiences made me want to further express my creative abilities. I’m dedicated to remaining productive and making the most of the connections I’ve made while in school.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

SEED prepared me for college academically. As a senior at SEED, I participated in a dual-enrollment program at Morgan State University. I saw the campus up close, met professors, and took classes with other college kids. This experience gave me an early look at college life and increased my interest in continuing my education.

Beyond academic preparation, the constant encouragement I received from my SEED counselors made a big difference. At the time, I didn’t appreciate their firmness, but as an adult I find myself implementing their advice. I am the person I am today because of SEED, and I am thankful for my experience.

What We’re Learning: SEED Miami Recruits Its First College Counselor

A&T.jpg

Becoming a college graduate is no easy feat. This is especially true for low-income, first-generation students who must overcome barriers such as financial challenges and balancing family and personal priorities.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 67 percent of low-income, first-generation students enroll in college, yet only 11 percent successfully earn a college degree. Without a degree, these students won’t be equipped to succeed in the 21st-century economy, will make nearly $1 million less in their lifetime compared to their peers, and will struggle to reach their full potential.

At SEED, we know that college readiness services are crucial to college success. That’s why our College Transition & Success team works diligently to ensure that every SEED student has the tools, support, and knowledge to effectively navigate the college application process and adjust to college life. This year, The SEED School of Miami will welcome its first college counselor to prepare for its inaugural graduating class in 2021. “We’re so excited to be in the final stages of selecting our founding college counselor,” said Luna Otero, director of talent management at SEED Miami. As a member of the College Transition & Success team, SEED Miami’s college counselor will provide personalized assistance with searching for scholarships, researching universities, and navigating any challenges the school’s students face when applying to college.

We look forward to welcoming this new team member to the SEED community, as they will play a pivotal role in the academic success of our scholars.

Our Impact: SEED DC Scholar-Artists Are Headed to Scotland!

SEED Falcon Theatre.jpg

Educating the whole student is a priority for SEED—and The SEED Falcon Theatre is a great example of our work to promote the creative and performing arts to all SEED students, regardless of artistic ability.

The SEED Falcon Theatre was selected to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the summer of 2020. This is a huge honor and the second time that Falcon Theatre has received this invitation. The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest and most prestigious arts festivals in the world and includes over 3,000 different performances by artists from all over the world.

This spring, Falcon Theatre also traveled to Sacramento, California, for the Junior Theater Festival, a musical theater adjudication festival that brings together over 2,000 students from 42 schools representing multiple states and countries.

SEED DC scholar and SEED Foundation Scholarship recipient De’Nayia Bennett (SEED DC ‘19) kicked off the festival by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to thunderous applause. In addition, SEED scholars Malik Ivey (SEED DC ‘19) and Leona Greene (SEED DC ‘22) were selected as Performance All-Stars.

Congratulations to all the SEED DC scholar-artists who participated in The SEED Falcon Theatre this year. We’d like to especially thank Dr. LaMar Bagley, artistic director of Falcon Theatre, who has dedicated the last 14 years of his performing arts career to developing and nurturing SEED DC artists.

P.S. This summer, The SEED Falcon Theatre will perform at the DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival, which runs from June 21 to July 7. Mark your calendar and check out the show!

Meet Our Students: Yazmine Ali (SEED DC '20) Dreams of Becoming a Cardiovascular Surgeon

Yazmine E-News.jpg

Eleventh grade is a crucial year for college-bound students nationwide. Balancing classes, extracurricular activities, and the preliminary phases of college admissions can seem nearly impossible, yet Yazmine Ali (SEED DC ‘20) has found a way to make it work.

In addition to being an honor-roll student, Yazmine is an active member of The SEED Falcon Theatre and the SEED Falcon volleyball, soccer, and track teams. Her involvement with extracurricular activities at SEED doesn’t end there—Yazmine is also a Peer Group Connection leader. In this role, she mentors and gives advice to incoming ninth-grade students who are adjusting to the rigor of SEED’s high school courses. “I love being involved with Peer Group Connection. It feels great to know that I’m helping to ease the transition for our incoming students.”

Yazmine’s leadership extends beyond SEED’s incoming ninth graders. She has already racked up more than 70 community service hours by volunteering at DC Central Kitchen, where she assists with cooking and packaging meals for the elderly, homeless, and ill. Yazmine has also traveled to Santana do Deserto, Brazil, with SEED DC’s Experiential Learning & External Opportunities program. Her most memorable moment from the trip was aiding a young boy suffering from a severe cut on his foot. She cleaned and bandaged his wound and provided him with a pair of her own socks to protect the injury and reduce the risk of infection. This experience, coupled with her internship at Children’s National Hospital, has inspired Yazmine to declare a biology pre-med major in pursuit of her dream to become a cardiovascular surgeon.

Clearly Yazmine is on the path to success, and her accomplishments have led to being a recipient of the 2020 SEED Foundation Scholarship! We admire her ambition and look forward to learning which college she will be heading to in fall 2020.

Meet Our Students: SEED Ambassador Jadyn Peterson (SEED MD ’21) to Broaden Her Horizons in Kingston, Jamaica

Jadyn Final.jpg

Jadyn Peterson (SEED MD ’21) began her journey with The SEED School of Maryland as a seventh-grade student, after relocating from Washington, DC, to Baltimore with her mother. Now a sophomore, Jadyn feels SEED’s 24-hour learning environment has brought a college education within her reach. She plans to double major in architectural engineering and sports management at Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama. “College is something I used to look up to, but because of SEED, it’s something I look forward to,” said Jadyn.

Jadyn has always looked for new opportunities to engage with the SEED community. Her passion for sports motivated her to become a team manager for the SEED Saber volleyball and basketball teams. As a team manager, Jadyn regularly meets with the director of athletics to discuss the outcomes of each game, provide individual player statistics, and give feedback on how the athletes can improve.

One of Jadyn’s most memorable moments at SEED was being selected as a SEED Ambassador. SEED Ambassadors serve as official student representatives for SEED schools. Since becoming a SEED Ambassador, Jadyn has led campus tours for prospective SEED scholars, their families, and donors. She has also served as a mentor for incoming students and attended job fairs with the human resources team to help recruit staff and faculty.

Jadyn is a well-known scholar at SEED MD and has built relationships with several staff members. Her student life counselor, Adaobi Ezeani, has seen Jadyn mature over the years. “Jadyn is an amazing student. Watching her become a phenomenal young lady has been a wonderful experience,” said Ms. Ezeani.

This summer, Jadyn will spend a week in Kingston, Jamaica—an opportunity provided by SEED MD’s Experiential Learning & External Opportunities program. She’ll engage in botanical research and explore Kingston’s Hope Zoo, which features indigenous animals and species from across the world. Her cohort will also visit an all-girls shelter to provide clothing and resources to young women in need.

Jadyn is a leader among her peers, and she consistently sets a positive example for younger students. We’re honored to have her as a member of the SEED family and are eager to see her excel in her college career.

Our Impact: Can You Say, “Road Trip”?!

Tours 1.jpg

Getting to and through college is no small feat. That’s why we do everything we can to set our students up for success.

This year, the college counselors and college success advisors from SEED’s College Transition & Success team hosted 70 SEED juniors on the annual college tour for juniors. Students from SEED DC and SEED MD visited seven colleges, including Albertus Magnus College, Amherst College, Rider University, Rutgers University—Camden, Swarthmore College, West Chester University, and Wilkes University.

The goal of the tour is to give students a keen grasp on what a college looks, feels, and even tastes like! In addition to touring campus housing and buildings, students met college students and asked questions during a panel discussion.

“The majority of our students will be the first members of their families to go to college. Thus, college tours give them real-life exposure to different campuses,” said Joi Baker Jones, director of College Transition & Success. “Our goal is to demystify the experience so that they feel like college is a place where they will thrive and belong.

The colleges and universities selected for the annual tour must be SEED endorsed, which means they must have a track record of success for underrepresented students. Through our College Matching Tier System, we evaluate colleges on three criteria most vital to the success of low-income, first-generation students. First, we assess the quality and availability of campus supports. Second, we rank colleges based on the generosity of their financial aid packages. It’s critical to us that our students not take on lots of debt in order to obtain their degrees. Third, we look at the graduation rate of each institution. Only institutions with strong graduation rates are endorsed. SEED has ranked over 400 colleges and universities based on their performance in these three areas.

“In the same way that students need to be college ready, we believe that colleges need to be student ready, especially when it comes to serving underrepresented students,” said Vincena Allen, chief growth officer at SEED.

Ensuring that SEED students go to a SEED-endorsed school pays off. Sixty four percent of all SEED graduates who start at SEED-endorsed schools graduate. That’s more than four times the rate for students who start at colleges that are not SEED endorsed.

“Our data shows that choosing a right-fit college can make all the difference for our students,” said Ms. Allen. “We’re committed to ensuring that our students and families become informed consumers and better understand what to look for in a college. Choosing a college is one of the most important life decisions you can make. We want to be sure that SEED graduates get it right.”

Malik Conway (SEED MD ‘20) enrolled in SEED MD as a sixth-grade student and is now in his junior year of high school. He joined this year’s college tour. “I was so excited to visit West Chester University, Wilkes College, and Rider University to see what college is really like. This tour has allowed me to broaden my horizons. I’ve always wanted to go to college. It’s hard to believe that I may be a student at one of these schools very soon.”

What We're Learning: SEED DC Scholars Serve the Community and Learn Real-World Skills as Tax Prep Ambassadors

Tax Prep.jpg

For some of us, filing our taxes is as simple as working with a tax professional or creating an online account with a tax services provider, submitting the necessary documents, and pressing send. Unfortunately, for many residents in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., the story is quite different.

Peter Nouhan, a graduate student at Georgetown University, saw a need for professional tax services for underserved populations who don’t have access to technology in these communities. He decided to start the first high-school-led, free tax prep initiative in Washington, D.C., offering a unique opportunity for local college-bound students to serve their community.

After receiving the 2018 Baker Innovation Grant, a $20,000 grant to fund social and political programs, Mr. Nouhan partnered with Community Tax Aid (CTA), a free, local tax assistance organization, and Hoya Taxa, a Georgetown University undergraduate student organization, to pilot the SEED Tax Prep Ambassadors program.

“We approached over 30 schools in the DC area, and Lesli Thompson, director of experiential learning & external opportunities at SEED DC, was the only person who took the leap. She believed in our initiative. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without her,” Mr. Nouhan said.

Every Monday evening, beginning on February 4, the SEED Tax Prep Ambassadors went to St. Luke Catholic Church to learn how to properly prepare tax documents, which included collecting the client’s tax documents, photo ID, and Social Security card and uploading them to a secure Google Drive account. With the help of Ron Hayes, tax program manager at CTA, and Hoya Taxa members Daphne Chiang (Georgetown University ’19) and Mark McNiskin (Georgetown University ’20), the SEED scholars worked closely with their clients to schedule appointments, provide consultations, and input tax information. A certified public accountant then prepared the taxes remotely, and the clients returned a week later to go over their returns and submit them.

“Because of this program, I learned what it means to be an effective multitasker and successfully handle multiple clients at one time,” said Kendriss Johnson (SEED DC ’19).

Congratulations to the following SEED DC scholars—Zachary Clark (SEED DC ’19), London Hart (SEED DC ’19), Kendriss Johnson (SEED DC ’19), Jeffrey Moore IV (SEED DC ’19), Imani Nixon (SEED DC ’19), and Jaymar Richards (SEED DC ’19)—for making history by being a part of such an amazing initiative and serving their community!

Where Are They Now? Monique Matthews (SEED DC ’04, Southeastern University ’09, Trinity Washington University ’12) Celebrates 13 Years with the US Government

At SEED, we begin to offer intensive college preparation to our students their junior year of high school. Our students learn how to financially prepare for college, tour colleges and universities across the country, and enroll in a semester-long course focused on ensuring a smooth transition from SEED to college life.

But we know that unexpected challenges that may arise while in college can derail our students’ college dreams. That’s why SEED’s College Transition & Success team is here to help every SEED student throughout the entire college process—from junior year of high school to college graduation.

Monique Matthews (SEED DC ’04) hit a snag her freshman year and began to rethink her college journey. With the support of Vincena Allen, who founded the College Transition & Success program, Monique remained on track and persisted to college completion.

This month, we spoke to Monique to learn more about her college journey and where she is now.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Southeastern University, where I majored in public health and clinical science.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition from SEED was hard, because I initially chose to attend a college that was not the best fit for me. I thank Ms. Vincena Allen for helping me successfully get through my freshman year. There were many days I wanted to quit because I was unhappy, but she continued to support me and encouraged me to finish the year strong—and I did. By my sophomore year, I was enrolled at Southeastern University—and there I found what “worked” for me. I got into a better rhythm and took full advantage of every opportunity.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

While in college, I participated in many SEED events, including the Alumni Institute [now the SEED Graduate Institute]. I am thankful for the friendships and relationships I built at SEED, because they helped me to navigate the college process and to overcome any obstacles.

What did you do after graduating from Southeastern University?

After graduating from Southeastern University in 2009, I took a year off from school to focus on establishing my career in the federal government. I had a desire to obtain my master’s degree. Ms. Allen was there to support my goal and cheer me along the way, and in 2010 I enrolled at Trinity Washington University and graduated in 2012 with a Master of Public Community Health degree.

I will be celebrating 13 years of working in the federal government this September! I currently serve as a program manager at the US Department of Labor, where I manage the department’s services and programs that help our employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

My experience at SEED has impacted me in more ways than one. I learned that only I am in control of my success and not to compare my success to others around me. This has helped me remain focused on the bigger picture and my long-term goals.

SEED has also provided me with a tremendous support system. Having a dream is great, but having a group of people behind you, pushing you to be a better you with every breath in their bodies—there is no feeling greater.

SEED continues to be a significant part of my life. The relationships I formed at SEED 20 years ago still thrive today. I am the woman I have become today mostly because of SEED. I am proud to say I am a SEED alumna and proud of my experience.

College Access and Success: Key Factors in Advancing Educational Equity

Join The SEED Foundation on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from 8:30 am to 10:15 am for a breakfast conversation about education in the 21st century.

Our featured panelists include, Michele Mason, executive director, Newark Charter School Fund, and Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga, executive director, The Education Trust — West. 

Ms. Mason and Dr. Smith Arrillaga will join Lesley Poole, chief executive officer and Vincena Allen, chief growth officer of The SEED Foundation, to discuss ways to advance equity in college access and success for underrepresented students and collaborate to create change.

Michelle Mason.png
Elisha Smith Arrillaga.jpg

Where: Oakland Marriott City Center
              1001 Broadway
             Oakland, CA  94607

Room number provided upon RSVP

When:  Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from 8:30 am to 10:15 am

RSVP: Please email Jasmine Hatcher at jhatcher@seedfoundation.com to RSVP today.

About The SEED Foundation

For the past 20 years, SEED has operated college preparatory public boarding schools and successfully supported students to and through college with our College Transition & Success program.  As we embark upon our next chapter, we are sharing what we have learned and elevating the urgency to close the opportunity and achievement gap for the most marginalized students.  Join us as we create a space for collective impact and time to courageously explore solutions.

Meet Our Students: Jermaine Murchison (SEED Miami ’23) Sets His Sights on West Point

Jermaine 3.jpg

Although still in middle school, Jermaine Murchison (SEED Miami ’23) is already focused on charting his path to a college degree. An eighth grader at SEED Miami, Jermaine is an honor roll student who sets a stellar example for his peers. As a member of the Student Ambassador program, Jermaine gives tours to prospective SEED students and donors. He is also a member of the Bulldog flag football team, where he plays safety, corner, and wide receiver.

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving as Jermaine’s student life counselor for three years. During this time, Jermaine has truly become a leader. Whether it’s in the classroom or on the football field, Jermaine has faced every challenge with tenacity and courage,” shared Kem Chatfield, a student life counselor at SEED Miami.

Jermaine is committed to taking advantage of every opportunity he is offered. As a sixth-grade scholar, he boarded a plane for the first time to travel to Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center in Deep Gap, North Carolina. Founded in 2003, Buffalo Cove encourages visitors to find harmony and empowerment through self-understanding, self-confidence, friends, and fun. Jermaine had the chance to explore nature, learn new skills, and connect with other Buffalo Cove campers.

“When our admissions director, Mr. Lewis, visited my home when I was in the fifth grade, I knew SEED was the school for me. I was most excited to live in the dorm, because it was something new, but traveling to Buffalo Cove gave me the opportunity to really get out of my comfort zone and try new things,” said Jermaine.

Jermaine is excited to begin high school and work with an advisor from SEED’s College Transition & Success program. He hopes to find a college or university that is the right fit for him. Currently, he has his sights set on earning a degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

We’re proud of Jermaine’s progress and excited to see where his educational journey takes him!

What We’re Learning: Acceleration Academies Work!

DSC_3749.JPG

At SEED, we’re committed to using evidence-based practices to improve our academic instruction and help our students succeed.

That’s why, last spring, we piloted an Acceleration Academy with students at SEED DC. Acceleration Academies provide targeted instruction in English language arts and math during a school vacation. We learned about this powerful intervention through research conducted on a district-wide improvement effort in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which found that the Acceleration Academies had a significant impact on student achievement and accounted for a larger proportion of learning gains than all the other strategies combined.

Instead of having fun in the sun during their spring break, nearly 40 SEED students participated in the Acceleration Academy. The students spent 20 hours over a five-day period honing their skills and mastering content aligned with the PARCC standardized test.

SEED’s Acceleration Academy worked!

  • Fifty-two (52) percent of students who participated in the Acceleration Academy improved their raw score on PARCC, compared to 12 percent of students who did not participate in the Acceleration Academy.

  • Thirty-two (32) percent of students who participated in the Acceleration Academy improved their PARCC performance level (PARCC has five levels of achievement), compared to 12 percent of students who did not participate in the Acceleration Academy. 

During our February 2019 winter break, we held another Acceleration Academy at SEED DC and are waiting to see the results.

Going forward, we’re excited about piloting more Acceleration Academies and other evidence-based practices across the network to help all SEED students improve.

Where Are They Now? Bradley Jacobs (SEED DC ’09, Towson University ’15) Is Living His Dream in New York City

bradlet.JPG

From the very first day our students set foot on campus, they begin to develop long-lasting and meaningful relationships.

These relationships are key to our students’ success. With the support of their counselors, teachers, and advisors, our scholars and graduates own their educational journeys and succeed in college and beyond.

This month, we spoke to Bradley Jacobs (SEED DC ’09). He shared with us how SEED’s guidance helped him to meet his goals and how the bonds he built are unbreakable.

What college or university did you attend after graduating from SEED?

I attended Towson University, where I majored in mass communications and minored in marketing.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition was unique, since I spent my first year studying in Spain. When I returned, I spoke to my College Transition & Success (CTS) advisor, Melissa Freedman, and she helped me develop a plan. I enrolled at Allegany Community College [now Allegany College of Maryland] and secured my associate’s degree after two years. I then transferred to Towson University.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

My CTS advisor was always available and constantly checked in with me. She helped me maneuver the college transfer process, determine which major was best for me, and develop a plan to ensure I had the GPA and credits to secure a degree in mass communications.

While in college, I also attended SEED’s Alumni Institute [now the SEED Graduate Institute] and received guidance on resume writing and financial literacy. The Institute helped me figure out what was beyond college and how to transition to adulthood. I found this super helpful.

What did you do after graduating from Towson University?

After graduating from Towson University, I moved to New York City.

It was my goal to work in the fashion industry, and today I work for a public relations agency where I manage relationships with fashion editors, celebrities, and online influencers. My focus is on helping my clients secure, maximize, and leverage press opportunities. Two of my clients are Nike and Helmut Lang.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

Two things stand out for me: the importance of experiencing and traveling the world, and getting to—and through—college.

I was given a ton of opportunities to travel while at SEED. I traveled to Greece and then participated in the Experience International Living program, where I spent three weeks in Mexico. Traveling broadened my curiosity and led me to study in Spain for a year after graduation. I also studied for a semester in the Bahamas, where I learned a lot about ecology and the environment.

As a SEED student, I was guided through the financial aid process and how to apply for scholarships. The college tours gave me a firsthand look at college life and what each school had to offer. Through a tour, I learned of the opportunity to study abroad, and I am forever grateful for the experience.

But beyond travel and help with college, perhaps the thing I remember and cherish most about SEED is the relationships.

My relationship with SEED extends beyond school. In fact, this summer I’ll be attending the wedding of my former SEED advisor. The bonds I built are deep—SEED is my family.

Our Impact: SEED DC Celebrates Founders Day

SEED Spark April Pic Final.png

“Good afternoon, scholars!”

“Good afternoon.”

“I am sure you can do better than that. Good afternoon, scholars!”

“Good afternoon!”

On March 6, Mecha Inman, the head of school for The SEED School of Washington, D.C., kicked off Founders Day 2019 with this energetic greeting to scholars. SEED DC’s annual Founders Day celebration is an opportunity for scholars, staff, and graduates—the entire SEED family—to celebrate the accomplishments of fellow SEED community members. It’s also a time to remember why Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota, co-founders of SEED and current SEED Foundation board members, started The SEED Foundation: They aspired to build the nation’s first network of college-preparatory boarding schools to provide youth living in low-income communities with an excellent education.

Founders Day is also a time to recognize eleventh and twelfth-grade scholars who have made significant contributions to SEED’s mission and vision. This year, the Vinnakota Award, was given to two remarkable scholars—Jeffrey Moore IV (SEED DC ’19) and Imani Nixon (SEED DC ’19).

Jeffrey and Imani are both members of the Peer Group Connection, where they serve as leaders and mentors for their fellow scholars. In addition, both students model the SEED mission by taking advantage of the many opportunities that SEED offers, such as traveling internationally with SEED’s Experiential Learning & External Opportunities program, performing with The SEED Falcon Theatre, and more!

“Founders Day is a wonderful time to celebrate and share our rich history and our mission with scholars, staff, and other stakeholders,” said, Ms. Inman. “We look forward to announcing the winners of the Vinnakota Award, and honoring our long-time staff members.”

IMG_0939.JPG

Finally, Founders Day is a time to recognize outstanding SEED teachers and faculty. Teachers who have served the school for four years receive a special chair to recognize their tenure at SEED and their commitment to SEED scholars. This year’s honorees were Brendan Dowd, campus operations manager; Alexis Holloway, school receptionist; Marjorie Howard, government grants manager; Davette Nutridge, special education teacher; Michael Street, director of information technology; Tina Taylor, student life counselor; and Nakeda Walker, administrative assistant.

What We’re Learning: Civil Rights Activist DeRay Mckesson Teaches SEED MD Seniors How to Be Effective Advocates

DeRay 5.JPG

At SEED, learning life skills is just as important as achieving academically. That’s why, in addition to our college-preparatory curriculum, we’re focused on providing students with the professional development experiences—including internships, social and emotional programming, and international travel—they need to explore their passions and gain real-world experiences.

On February 8, The SEED School of Maryland welcomed DeRay Mckesson as a guest speaker for its College and Career Transition class, which is led by the External Opportunities team. A Baltimore native, Mr. Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity, and justice. A leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, Mr. Mckesson is also the founder of Pod Save the People, an award-winning weekly podcast.

Mr. Mckesson spoke with SEED MD seniors about the importance of learning to advocate for yourself and organizing for change in your own community. In addition, he shared key facts about police violence and talked to students about best practices in orchestrating a peaceful protest.

Chelsea Brown, the External Opportunities coordinator for The SEED School of Maryland, organized the event. She said, “We were so pleased to have Mr. Mckesson join us. The students are really interested in hearing from leaders like Mr. Mckesson, who are making a tremendous impact in the world. They enjoy learning about different careers and meeting professionals who look like them. This enables them to dream big when applying to college and making plans for their future careers.”

During the lively question-and-answer session, students learned more about what it takes to be a community activist. They also wanted to know if Mr. Mckesson ever gets tired or wants to stop protesting.

Mr. Mckesson said, “There are times I think about quitting, but the blue vest I wear serves as a reminder of what I’ve been through and encourages me to keep moving.”

“In this polarized time, our students need to be able to stand up for themselves,” Ms. Brown told us, “and that means finding and using data to advocate for themselves, versus only coming from a place of emotion. A lot of our students are applying to predominantly white institutions. Navigating a college experience is tough, and they will inevitably confront challenges. When they do, I want them to know their rights and be educated and informed.”

To learn more about DeRay Mckesson, click here.

To learn more about the External Opportunities program at SEED MD, click here.

Our Impact: SEED Miami Students Take the Leap

Did you learn to sing, play an instrument, draw, or dance in school?

If you’re like many Americans, you received arts programming in middle and high school as part of your required curriculum. Unfortunately, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, arts programming is on the decline. Some educators attribute the drop in arts education to a focus on standardized tests, which only measure achievement in core subjects. As the cliché goes, “What gets measured gets done.”

However, that may now change. In a groundbreaking, large-scale study, The Brookings Institution found that arts education matters. After analyzing 42 schools, researchers found that “a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes.” 

We agree!

At SEED Miami, we support our students by helping them to discover new talents and to deepen their interests through our Sparks program, a component of our Student Life curriculum. From robotics to drama, from origami and comic art to fitness, SEED Miami is providing students with programming and experiences to broaden their knowledge of the world and of themselves.

For the past five years, our students have attended Alvin Ailey performances and workshops and have enrolled in AileyCamp—a full-scholarship, six-week summer program featuring a variety of dance styles and classes, along with workshops on critical thinking, conflict resolution, and creative communication. Last month, the SEED Miami Sparks program partnered with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to offer our students a safe and artistic environment in which to take dance classes.

Alvin Ailey.jpg

Most recently, Robert Battle, artistic director at Alvin Ailey, visited the students at SEED Miami and spoke about his journey through college and his path to becoming a dancer. During the question-and-answer session with Mr. Battle, students asked, “At what age did you first know that you wanted to become a dancer?” and “What advice would you give me if I was interested in someday being a principal dancer?”

At SEED, we see the real, positive impact of arts education on our students every day. It’s exciting to now have the data to back up what we know.

Thank you for your support of Sparks and for helping our students take the leap to becoming our next generation of creative thinkers, collaborators, and problem solvers!

To learn more about the Sparks program at SEED Miami, click here.

Robert Battle’s visit to SEED Miami was featured on News 7 Miami. To view the story, click here.

Meet Our Students: Monae Scott (SEED DC ’19) Receives Posse Scholarship

Monae.jpg

Tenacious, driven, and gifted are just a few words that capture the spirit of Monae Scott (SEED DC ’19). Monae began her journey with SEED as a sixth-grade student who was committed to making her dream of becoming a college graduate a reality. As a SEED scholar, she took advantage of every opportunity to gain a global perspective, such as traveling to Greece and Tanzania. While abroad, Monae was immersed in cultures much different than her own. This gave her a special outlook on class differences and their impacts on underserved populations in countries across the world.

On campus, Monae is a leader among her peers. She serves as a peer group counselor whose duties include mentoring younger students. She is also an active member of The SEED Falcon Theatre, an award-winning performing arts program designed to promote and develop scholars who have a passion for the creative and performing arts. As an advocate for her community, Monae participated in Project Soapbox last fall, a program that asks students to create a two-minute call-to-action speech. She focused on the food deserts of Wards 7 and 8 compared to the rest of her native DC.

These accomplishments have garnered Monae not one, but two academic scholarships toward her college education! She is the proud recipient of the Horatio Alger Association State Scholarship and was also chosen as a Posse Scholar. Posse Scholars receive full-tuition scholarships to attend one of The Posse Foundation’s partner colleges or universities.

In the fall of 2019, Monae will begin her college journey at Sewanee: The University of the South. We wish her much success!