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.

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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 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

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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!


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


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

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“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.”


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

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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.

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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


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!

Where Are They Now? Antwain Coward (SEED DC ’06, Case Western ’10, Georgetown ‘14) Establishes DistrictCryo

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Since our founding in 1998, SEED has remained dedicated to providing underserved youth with an excellent education and the support they need to fulfill their dreams of becoming college graduates. This commitment has led to 502 students securing their high school diplomas and to 107 obtaining their bachelor’s degrees.

One of these graduates is Antwain Coward (SEED DC ’06). Now serving as a member of The SEED Foundation Board of Directors, Antwain has chosen to give back to the place he says made him “want to be exceptional.”

We caught up with Antwain this month to learn more about his college journey and where he is now.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Case Western Reserve University, where I majored in finance and minored in information systems.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

I felt well-prepared for college after graduating from SEED. As a freshman at Case, I was ahead of most of my peers in reading, and in math I was right there. The AP courses I took at SEED really helped. I attribute a lot of my college success to the courses I took at SEED.

Did you stay connected to SEED while at Case?

A distinguishing element of SEED is the College Transition & Success (CTS) program. I remember it being in its early stages when I started at Case. Ms. Allen [founding staff member of the program] visited me to ensure my transition from SEED to college was smooth. She taught me to be my own advocate and to constantly seek professional and financial resources.

Through the CTS program, I also received stipends to help assist with day-to-day expenses. I also received care packages—which were a blessing.

What did you do after graduating from Case?

I always had an entrepreneurial itch. While working at KPMG as an experienced associate - financial manager, I enrolled at Georgetown University and obtained my master’s in technology management. Soon thereafter, I learned about cryotherapy [using cold temperatures as a medical therapy]. I flew to the only place on the East Coast specializing in this service. I tried it, saw its immediate impact, and knew it would be great for DC.

In 2016, I opened Washington DC’s first and only recovery and rejuvenation lab—DistrictCryo—to help individuals refresh from the wear and tear of everyday life.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

SEED helped me realize that I had true potential and that I could be successful. They taught me the importance of being confident, which allowed me to vocalize my opinion in front of audiences, head organizations full of intelligent college students, network, and establish relationships with key individuals.

In addition to being academically prepared for college, SEED taught me essential life skills—like how to properly tie a tie and how to cook!

SEED made me want to be exceptional—and today I am living my dream.

To learn more about Antwain Coward and DistrictCryo, click here.

College Access and Success: Key Factors in Advancing Educational Equity

Join The SEED Foundation on Thursday, February 21, from 8:30am – 10:15am for “College Access and Success: Key Factors in Advancing Educational Equity,” a breakfast conversation. We will share our results-oriented approach to college matching and discuss best practices for improving college graduation rates for underrepresented students.

Our featured panelists include Dr. Michelle Gilliard, partner at Venture Philanthropy Partners, and Shavar Jeffries, national president at Democrats for Education Reform.

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Dr. Gilliard and Mr. Jeffries will join Lesley Poole, chief executive officer, and Vincena Allen, chief growth officer of The SEED Foundation for a lively discussion about college access and equity.  Dr. Jenna Aurand, senior study director at Westat, will facilitate.

Thank you to Scott and Stephanie Rostan for sponsoring this event.

Where:                 275 Madison Ave (entrance on 40th Street)

Suite 1201 (12th floor)

New York, NY 10016

When:                   Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 8:30 am - 10:15 am

RSVP:                    Please email Jasmine Hatcher at 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.

15 SEED Seniors Receive SEED Foundation Scholarship

Fifteen SEED seniors will get an extra financial boost on their way to earning a college degree. Earlier this month, SEED staff, supporters and family members gathered to celebrate the students from SEED DC and SEED Maryland who were awarded the 2018 SEED Foundation Scholarship. Selected by a committee of non-SEED employees, each student will receive $2,000 to fill the gap left after financial aid and other scholarships are depleted. This scholarship—made possible by our generous supporters—covers essential expenses such as books, food and transportation.

The 2018 SEED Foundation Scholarship winners!

The 2018 SEED Foundation Scholarship winners!

At the reception, both heads of school—Jon Tucker of SEED Maryland and Mecha Inman of SEED DC—reflected on the hard work and dedication each student put forth during their seven years at SEED. Each student was presented with a certificate from a SEED College Success Advisor affirming their achievement. Maturity, integrity, enthusiasm, and drive were just a few adjectives our advisors used to describe these exceptional students.

Most touching were the well-wishes from family members and close friends. One parent shared how proud she was of the man her son had grown up to be and expressed her sincere appreciation for SEED’s support. Another encouraged each student to hold on to their integrity and to think wisely before jumping. Overall a theme resonated—no matter what challenge or obstacle our students face, their SEED family has their back and will continue to support and guide them on their journey to college completion.


We are so proud of the 2018 scholarship recipients and look forward to witnessing their upcoming success. Congratulations SEED scholars!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for highlights on each of our awardees.

SEED CEO Lesley Poole: "SEED Students Advocate for Their Own Futures"

Dear SEED Community and Friends,

A few weeks ago, more than 1.2 million people—including students, families, and staff from all three SEED schools— marched in hundreds of student-led events across the country. I love nothing more than when I see students speaking up for what they believe—armed with the confidence, the conviction, and the facts to effectively make their case.

Pictured: Students from SEED Maryland, with the support of teachers and staff, walked out of their classrooms and marched on the quad for 17 minutes -- one minute in solidarity with each life lost in Parkland this past Valentine's Day.

Pictured: Students from SEED Maryland, with the support of teachers and staff, walked out of their classrooms and marched on the quad for 17 minutes -- one minute in solidarity with each life lost in Parkland this past Valentine's Day.

For some, it starts early. Ask any group of students how they landed at SEED and one (or more) will tell you, “I wanted to go to SEED. I had to convince my parents it was right for me.”

Whether or not students arrive at SEED with natural leadership and advocacy ability, these are skills every student will need to build, practice, and master. In addition, because the students SEED serves will have to overcome remarkable odds to achieve their goal earning a college degree, we help them develop the skills to advocate for themselves from day one.

As our unique model allows, lessons around self-advocacy and activism are woven throughout our academic and student life curriculum. Visit SEED DC on National History Day* and you might see one of our senior girls embody six-year-old Ruby Bridges as she tells you, in first person, about being the first black student to integrate an all-white school in New Orleans. A young man in a suit may introduce himself as Congressman John Lewis, crossing Selma’s Pettus Bridge with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Another student might emerge as Mahatma Ghandi, having converted a sheet from his dorm room into an authentic-looking Indian dhoti.

A recent SEED Miami school-wide event had students adopting the arguments and viewpoints of Malcolm X and Dr. King in a debate about the most effective methods of social change and activism.

Additionally, SEED Maryland students develop skills to resolve interpersonal conflicts through a series of lessons on how to disagree respectfully. (When the head of Exelon Energy toured the campus, he was so impressed with the posters that accompany these lessons, he took a set back to his office.)

With seven years of intensive self-advocacy practice under their belts, our students arrive on their college campuses with a strong foundation on which to draw as they navigate their new surroundings. But as the data show, they’ll face challenges and setbacks that derail nine out of ten of their peers. The stakes couldn’t be higher. At this critical juncture, being able to effectively advocate for yourself carries profound, lifelong implications.

For this reason, SEED’s College Transition & Success team works side by side with our graduates to remind them of all the skills at their disposal. We make sure they’re aware of all the on-campus resources they can tap into. We help them troubleshoot their own academic, financial, or social challenges.

We don’t call the financial aid office to find out why a student’s scholarship wasn’t processed, or ask a professor for an extension when a personal crisis strikes. Instead, SEED coaches graduates in crafting the most effective strategy to advance their case. We make sure they’re the hero of their own story, that they’re building the confidence they need to be successful in college and beyond.

At the same time, we’re busy advocating on their behalf. We’re making the case for them when we campaign for authorizing legislation and appropriations in state capitals. We’re supporting their needs (and those of millions of others) when we press universities to improve on-campus supports. It’s on their behalf that we ask for philanthropic support from our community.

Thank you for your support—your personal and financial advocacy—on behalf of our students. With the backing of the SEED community, they’re doing more than earning their degrees—they’re gaining the passion and confidence to make a positive mark on the world.






Lesley Poole, Chief Executive Officer

*SEED DC history teacher Bill Stevens, who organizes and leads National History Day at the school, was recently nominated by the National Archives and Records Administration for the Harris History Teacher of the Year Award. The award recognizes “creative teaching methods that interest students in history and help them make exciting discoveries about the past.”

SEED Juniors Tour Nine Colleges and Universities

Last week, seventy juniors from SEED Maryland and SEED DC hopped on a bus and headed south to tour nine colleges and universities in Virginia and the Carolinas. Joined by school staff and Foundation College Transition & Success (CTS) advisors, this trip gave students a glimpse into college life and an opportunity to learn more about the support services that SEED's CTS team will provide them on their journey to college completion.

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The week kicked off in Virginia with visits to George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth UniversityOld Dominion University, and Hampton University. At each school, our students attended info sessions covering the admissions process, financial aid, and dorm life.  After tours of the schools’ library, student recreation centers and the dining halls, our students were prepared to begin drafting their college lists.

Heading further south, the tour made stops at North Carolina A&TQueens College, Winthrop University, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Duke University. Highlights included a financial literacy workshop with a panel discussion with local business experts on preparing to enter the “real world” and a DeStress Fest that equipped our students with techniques to ease the stress of midterms and finals.

The college tour for juniors is an important step in our student’s selection process. It helps ensure they have the tools to choose a college that is the right fit for them — one of the critical elements for success in college and beyond.

SEED Maryland Students Meet With Trailblazing Attorney Mrs. Betty Walker

Thanks to board member John Noel, junior and senior young women at SEED Maryland enjoyed a special treat recently when they met with an extended member of the Noel family, retired attorney Betty Walker! Mrs. Walker was the first black woman from the segregated south to attend Harvard Law School and only the third black woman to attend in the history of the school. Hers is the story of the American Dream—realized through education and hard work. Her drive to succeed was instilled in her by her grandmother who prioritized education above all else and fostered a lifelong love of reading and learning.

Mrs. Walker also attended Spelman College, whose motto is “A Choice to Change the World.” During introductions, the SEED MD students were asked to share what they would change about the world. Answers were as varied as they were profound. “I would make college free.” “I would eliminate health disparities in the African American community.” “I would have every woman walk with confidence in her own skin.” “I would cure cancer.”

Mrs. Walker encouraged the girls to learn their history. She talked about James Baldwin leaving the south to seek the “warmth of other suns” and—after a quick lesson on the Great Migration—described SEED as the first of many other suns she hopes the students will enjoy during their lives.

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Perhaps the most moving moment was when Mrs. Walker read a poem from a Spelman classmate of hers, a “promising young writer” named Alice Walker, below:

They were women then
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—stout of
With fists as well as
How they battered down
And ironed
Starched white
How they led
Headragged generals
Across mined
To discover books
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it
— Women, Alice Walker

As Mrs. Walker read, there was a rumbling among the students; they had studied the poem in class earlier this school year. It was one of those magical moments where the importance and relevance of classwork is illustrated outside the classroom.

And the Winner Is...SEED DC's Falcon Theatre!

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This past weekend, a group of 20 students from the SEED School Falcon Theatre joined nearly 6,000 other singers, dancers, and actors from across the globe at the 2018 Junior Theater Festival (JTF) in Atlanta, Georgia! Lead by SEED DC staff Dr. LaMar Bagley, Ms. Randee Grant, and Ms. Tina Taylor, the SEED DC students performed an excerpt from "Aladdin, Jr." and attended master classes in acting, dance, voice, and technical theater led by industry professionals from Broadway and Hollywood. 

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JTF 2018 was SEED DC's sixth consecutive year at the international festival--and our students continued their winning tradition with several awards! Senior Jiejer received the 2018 Sheridan Giles Technical Theater Scholarship, awarding him $500 to further his artistic education; scholar-artists Brianna, Dakara, and Carlos were recognized for their singing, choreography and dancing chops with an invitation to JTF's Broadway Slam, a collaborative performance with students from other schools. And last but far from least, longtime SEED DC staff leader Dr. LaMar Bagley received the Freddie G Fellowship, an elite award that recognizes America's top arts educators with a  $5,000 prize.

In between performances, workshops, and awards ceremonies, the SEED students ran into the cast and crew of the Oprah Winfrey Network show "Greenleaf." These television professionals were so intrigued by our students, and their talents, that they decided to spend the day with us! Actress Kim Hawthorne and makeup artist Yvonne Eagle shared bits of wisdom and cheered on The SEED Falcon Theatre crew. Finally, the students visited the CNN Headquarters for a behind-the-scenes look at television production, and the Center for Puppetry Arts for a hands-on history lesson on puppetry. You can see more pictures from their weekend of adventure on The Falcon Theatre's instagram page.

SEED Families Catch a Glimpse of their Futures at University of Maryland - College Park

Last Saturday, SEED DC high-schoolers and their families gathered at the University of Maryland, College Park for another Parent College Prep Academy (PCPA) event! Developed jointly by SEED DC and The SEED Foundation's College Transition & Success Team, the PCPA program gives students and families an early glimpse at the applications process, college fit and match, and options for financial support--not to mention exposure to a real college campus.


The day started with a tour of the campus (and a quick stop for lunch at the dining hall for some brain food). After that, the group gathered for a Q&A Session with four current University of Maryland students, including SEED grad Shamari Pratt (SEED DC '14). Each panelist described what led them to UMD College Park before fielding questions from our students and their families. Shamari stressed the importance of finding a mentor, and urged the students to take advantage of SEED DC's many extracurricular activities.

After the Q&A session, our students and their families attended college fit and match and financial aid workshops. Led by our team of College Transition & Success experts, these workshops covered financial assistance, on-campus resources, and other factors that lead to college success. The Parent College Prep Academy truly makes college access and success a family affair. 

Thank you again to the Flamboyan Foundation for partnering with the Parent College Prep Academy, and to our hosts at the University of Maryland - College Park!


Passing the Torch to the Class of 2025

SEED Maryland's Newest Freshmen and their families are honored at the 2017 Blazer Ceremony


On Friday, SEED Maryland's freshman class and their parents, grandparents, siblings, and extended family convened for the annual Blazer Ceremony in the Friedman Auditorium. During the ceremony, the Class of 2025 (so called because that is the year they plan to graduate from college) were formally bestowed the SEED Blue Blazer, which distinguishes them from their younger peers and marks their transition to high school. 

Before the ceremony, the Class of 2025 honored a few of its own. Eighteen members of the class were named prefects, which gives them additional responsibilities to the school and their classmates. Prefects are chosen based on strong academic performance as well as personal qualities, such as leadership potential. In his speech, one new prefect urged his peers to remember that today's hard work pays dividends. College may seem far away to most high school freshmen, but SEED students know it's never too early to start planning for their academic futures

The choices you make today - they really do matter.
— New SEED Prefect Bayron M.

Parents play a key role in our community, so it only makes sense that they would play a key role in the Blazer Ceremony. Many parents joined their children on stage to help them don the SEED Blue Blazer for the first time. As each student in the Class of 2025 crossed the stage, they were cheered on by family, SEED staff, and their peers--the same communities that will ultimately support them to and through college. 


#SEEDGradsSucceed: College Outreach Visits straight from our CTS Advisors (Part 5)

Jordan VISITs SEED GRADS AT North Carolina A&T!

Our advisors' annual College Outreach Visits are a key ingredient to CTS's "secret sauce." Below, follow Jordan on the final CTS social media takeover of the season as he visits Quonnetta (SEED DC ‘17), Cierra (SEED DC ‘17), DeAsia (SEED MD '16), Jasmyn (SEED DC '16), and Darcia (SEED DC '14) at North Carolina A&T State University. (Scroll down for previous installments in the #SEEDGradsSucceed series!)

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Good morning SEED family!

It is a pleasure to join you all once more as I wrap up my Fall College Outreach Visit Season. Again, I am Mr. Frasier, College Success Advisor for The SEED Foundation’s College Transition & Success (CTS) Team. I am currently at North Carolina A&T State University, a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) in Greensboro, NC. I'm taking the time to check in with our SEED Graduates, to see how they are doing academically, financially, and socially/emotionally. Please join me for a sneak peek into my trip.

Quonnetta (SEED DC '17) and I just came from her Chemistry class, where they reviewed chemical reactions and took a quiz. She is currently a first year at North Carolina A&T State University majoring in Computer Engineering. We sat down to make sure her financial account was up to date, and noticed that she is still waiting on one of her outside scholarships, so now she's sending them an email to follow up. It's always great to see our SEED Graduates taking ownership of their experience and communicating with the right supports and offices on campus to overcome any barriers. Now Quonnetta is off to go study her notes and prepare for her next quiz in Chemistry on Thursday! I'm looking forward to seeing her again for the SEED Family Dinner later this afternoon.

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Quonnetta after our campus tour and one on one time yesterday. She just celebrated her birthday last Friday and is still excited about it!

So glad I got the chance to catch up with Darcia (SEED DC ‘14). Darcia is in her 4th year at North Carolina A&T State University majoring in Elementary Education. She is looking forward to coming back to DC to teach and give back to DC public schools. We sat and reminisced about our College Outreach Visit her first year at NC A&T, Unfortunately, she has a class tonight and won’t be able to make our SEED Family Dinner. However, she got one on one time with me for lunch!

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It is a beautiful day on North Carolina A&T State University’s campus. Jasmyn (SEED DC ‘16) and I met up at the center of campus to take a new picture. Jasmyn is a 2nd year transfer student here at NC A&T. She transferred here after completing her first year at Bennett College for Women, which is right around the corner. She enjoyed her experience at Bennett. However, she wanted access to more programs and activities. She is enjoying her transition and enjoys the new Academic challenges of NC A&T. She is also now a member of their intramural Volleyball team. Volleyball is her outlet! 

I admire this friendship & sisterhood! Cierra & Quonnetta (SEED DC ‘17) are both first years at North Carolina A&T State University. They've been roommates since sixth grade at SEED, and are now continuing their tradition at NC A&T. Our SEED Graduates have 7 years of residential living experience, which makes living in college dormitories a breeze for them. 

The great thing about visiting Greensboro, NC is the close proximity of colleges our SEED Graduates attend. I came around the corner to Bennett College for Women to check in with DeAsia (SEED Maryland '16). She is in her second year majoring in Biology. We caught up before heading to the SEED Family Dinner with the rest of the SEED Graduates in the area.

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There is nothing like bringing together a group of SEED Graduates from the classes of 2014-2017 for a SEED Family Dinner. North Carolina A&T State University, Bennett College, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro are all represented tonight! We are thankful to be able to bring our SEED Graduates together to reminisce about times at SEED, their college experiences, and advice from the older Graduates.

The first half of my trip is complete at North Carolina A&T State University. Thank you for following my journey today! Next Stop: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro - UNCG, and next week at St. Mary's College of Maryland. I have thoroughly enjoyed checking in with our SEED Graduates this season and look forward to continuing to support them through to college completion.

#SEEDGradsSucceed: College Outreach Visits straight from our CTS Advisors (Part 4)


Our advisors' annual College Outreach Visits are a key ingredient to CTS's "secret sauce." Below, follow Ashley and Lydia as they visit Tayhlor (SEED DC '15), Bianca (SEED MD '17), and Charda (SEED MD '17) at Towson University. (Scroll down for previous installments in the #SEEDGradsSucceed series!)

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9:00 AM: Arriving on campus at Towson University

Good morning SEED network! My name is Ms. Murray and I am one of the newest College Success Advisors with the College Transition & Success (CTS) Team at SEED! I'm so excited to be taking over the Foundation's social media today, along with my colleague Ms. Weiss as we visit Towson University for the first time ever! On this College Outreach Visit, I get to meet junior Tayhlor (SEED DC '15) and learn more about her time so far at Towson. I hope you enjoy this journey with me as I sit in on class, form relationships with campus administrators who support our students, and learn more about what Towson has to offer! 

11:00 AM: Touring Towson with Tayhlor

Please meet the lovely Tayhlor (SEED DC '15; Towson '19)! Tayhlor is a junior studying Theatre Production and Design. What she enjoys most about Towson is the environment. She told me that she had no expectations when she transferred here, but she loved how diverse the campus was! Tayhlor led me on a campus tour which ended at her favorite building, the Center for the Arts. All of her classes are in this building, and she's even worked on a student production here called "The Queen's Curse". And in a couple weeks she will begin working on her second production! Now we're off to class! 

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12:00 PM: Time for Class

I'm currently sitting in on Tayhlor's Theatre History class, listening to a group presentation on the classical Sanskrit play, Shakuntala. Tayhlor's group did their presentation a few weeks ago on the Greek tragedy, Antigone. I think it's amazing all the different cultures and histories they get to learn about in the classroom!


3:00 PM: A Few Friendly Faces

Hey everyone, look who I found! Ms. Weiss is also at Towson visiting SEED Maryland '17 grads J'Vaughn, Bianca, and Charda. We just left the Center for Student Diversity where we learned of some really great resources for Towson students! They do a lot to support first-generation college students, from hosting networking opportunities to offering scholarships! The Director of Student Success Programs stressed that students who stay connected tend to persist better through college. It is wonderful to know our students can receive so much support, and we can't wait to get them connected!

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9:00 AM: Towson COV Takeover Day Two!

Good morning, SEED friends! I'm back and ready for day number TWO at Towson University. My first stop is class with Charda (SEED MD '17) then class with Bianca (SEED MD '17). After that, I'm going to connect them with a few on-campus resources, like the folks at the Office of Diversity and Student Affairs that Ms. Murray and I met with yesterday. I'm beside myself with excitement (can you tell?) to be spending another day on this beautiful campus with my fabulous grads!

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12:00 PM: Productive Pizza Party!

I just finished sitting in class with my grads, now it's time for one-on-one meetings - starting with Charda! We are completing her FAFSA application (hooray for it being open already!) for 2018-2019. Not only are we being productive by getting this important task finished before the deadline, but it was made even better with a slice of free pizza!

1:00 PM: Time for Some Brain Food! 

Next stop: LUNCH. It was great spending time with these two! They haven't seen each other since starting school at Towson, so they had a lot to catch up on. My stomach hurts from laughing so much - they have such good energy!

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3:00 PM: Touring the Dorms with Bianca

After lunch, I did a campus tour and one-on-one time with Bianca. The first stop was her dorm - she lives in a suite with a sophomore. Bianca likes her dorm, especially because it's close to all her classes on campus. She said her RA is very involved and her floor is always doing fun things together as a group!

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6:00 PM: Saying So Long to our SEED Grads!

Second day at Towson: COMPLETE. It was great spending the day with Bianca and Charda, and getting to learn what a day in their shoes looks like! Thanks for following me during this Social Media Takeover, and stay tuned for Mr. Frasier's College Outreach Visit at North Carolina A&T State University next week!

Hands-on learning at the kickoff of DC #HousingWeek2017


There's nothing like learning by doing! On Monday, five SEED School of Washington, D.C. students attended the groundbreaking at the future R. L. Christian Apartments, a 100% affordable housing development. SEED student Ke'Ev's questions about homelessness and affordable housing impressed Mayor Bowser so much, she called Ke'ev forward and invited him to help break the sod! 

Ke'Ev and his classmates have been taking Introduction to Urban Planning this semester, a new course offered at SEED DC taught by Mr. Epps. The course covers a wide range of issues, with an emphasis on local development and affordable housing. Mr. Epps jumped at the chance to get these students some hands-on experience. "Hearing vocabulary and themes from our earlier lessons allowed them to absorb the opportunity," he says.