February 2012  

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Happy 20th Anniversary, New Jersey SEEDS!


Dear Friends of SEEDS,


Welcome to New Jersey SEEDS' 20th anniversary year. It was 1992 when a small group of innovators confronted the profound lack of opportunity for students in the state's least privileged urban school districts. Uniting the education, business and independent school sectors, they believed they could shatter conventional stereotypes and create a mechanism through which inner city students would thrive. 


For two decades, the organization they founded has created extraordinary educational access for highly-motivated students who might otherwise not have had the chance to break out of their economic circumstances and excel. Each of SEEDS' achievements is human: a student, a parent, a family or a school transformed by this life changing opportunity. But the larger story can be captured by numbers: 

  • 1,630 students have now graduated from SEEDS' academic programs. 1,000 are continuing their studies in independent schools and colleges; over 600 are in graduate school or contributing their talents in the workforce.
  • SEEDS' families have an average annual income of approximately $36,000. To make an exceptional education available to them, in the past six years alone, SEEDS has leveraged $90,491,372 in financial aid from the independent school community.
  • The average SEEDS Scholar's combined SAT score is more than 400 points higher than that of the average student in the high schools they might have attended.
  • Two-thirds of SEEDS Scholars go on to attend "Most Competitive" or "Highly Competitive" colleges and universities. Eleven percent of our Scholars have attended Ivy League schools.
  • Competition for entry to SEEDS' programming is intense. Last year, we received more than 600 applications for just 120 spots in our Scholars and Young Scholars programs.

Leading Change, a 20th Anniversary Celebration


No major milestone would be complete without a celebration. This year, SEEDS is planning Leading Change, a fabulous benefit dinner, with three goals in mind: to honor those transformational leaders at the forefront of organizations and institutions that make economic mobility possible; to recognize the remarkable visionaries who built New Jersey SEEDS on the dream of educational equity; and to raise funds to support the coming year's NJ SEEDS students.


Please plan to join us on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at Maritime Parc in Jersey City. We can promise extraordinary views across the Hudson, exceptional food prepared by a widely-heralded chef, an auction of incomparable experiences, and a wonderfully inspiring evening.


Looking Toward the Future


While 20 years have passed since our founding, SEEDS continues to address a critical statewide need. Currently, low-income students in New Jersey's poorest urban districts have only a minimal chance of long-term educational success. Dropout rates are as high as 70 percent. Fewer than six percent of those who remain in high school achieve combined mathematics and verbal scores higher than 900 on the SATs. Among the highest achieving students nationwide, one-third of those in the lowest socioeconomic group do not attend college at all. According to The Economic Mobility Project, without a college degree, almost half of all children with parents in the lowest income quintile will remain in that bottom quintile. For students born into low-income families, the key to economic success is access to higher education. 


It is a privilege to be part of an organization that has been - and will continue to be - committed to providing the knowledge, skills, access and support to those students enrolled in our programs so they can excel side by side with their independent school peers. We strive for a world in which young people's initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status, and we are dedicated to supporting their success.


Here's to another twenty years of growth and achievement!








Ronni Denes


Happenings at SEEDS


SEEDS Celebrates the Holiday Season

Scholar Alumni at the 2011 Holiday Spectacular


On December 28, SEEDS hosted the 2011 Alumni Holiday Spectacular at Michael Anthony's in Jersey City. More than 130 Scholar Alumni and Alumni attended the event. Check out all of our photos from the



SEEDS helped organize holiday surprises for three deserving families this holiday season. Working with Jack and Jill of Essex/Hudson Chapter's teen group and Spirit of Giving, SEEDS helped provide gifts and holiday cheer. (Read the article in the Newark Patch or visit Spirit of Giving's site for photos.)  


Placement and Admissions Highlights


In early January, more than 900 applications were sent to more than 100 independent schools on behalf of current SEEDS students. Scholars and Young Scholars can expect their decisions by March. Our College Preparatory Program (CPP) students are also waiting for decisions from colleges and universities across the country. Good luck to all of our students!


Recruitment for the next SEEDS class is already in full swing. To date, we've spread the word through more than 120 school visits and 43 information sessions. We've also met with nearly 20 community organizations and spoken at eight PTA meetings. More than 1,600 application cards have been distributed.


By the Scholars Program early deadline in late January, we had received 310 applications for consideration, as well as 106 applications for the Young Scholars Program. Recruitment for CPP is also going well. In just one day, 27 applications were submitted at Orange High School alone.


Education and Guidance Updates


Students will be kicking off 2012 with our proprietary curriculum, including a program focusing on human behavior. With expertise in this area, Director of Education and Guidance, David Allyn, was the invited speaker at Trinity School in Manhattan on January 24. David shared tips with the students for effectively managing embarrassment. (You can view David's presentation online.)


Teryon Lowery (YSP '09) with his holiday presents from Jack and Jill's teen group

On January 7, SEEDS held an event for CPP students, Scholar Alumni, and their families to assist with the college financial aid process. Volunteers worked with more than 20 families during personalized one-hour sessions throughout the day.


Our Guidance team has also been busy over the past few months. By the end of January, Kate Levine and Edaine Murray visited 239 Scholar Alumni at 60 independent schools. Plus, Guidance has launched a new newsletter designed for Scholar Alumni in high school. The inaugural issue, launched in early February, discussed what's new and exciting at SEEDS and provided students with a closer look at the college application process. The full issue will be available online soon. 


Celebrating 20 Years of Achievement


Founders Kickoff Luncheon 

SEEDS Founders
SEEDS Founders Mark Sandler, John Duffy, Blair MacInnes and William Engel at the Founders Kickoff Luncheon


As the start of our 20th anniversary celebration, we invited our SEEDS' founders to lunch on January 5 at The University Club in New York. It was a terrific opportunity to hear their recollections of SEEDS' early years and accomplishments.  


Leading Change Benefit 


At this event, SEEDS will honor the transformational leaders who have helped guide our success over the past twenty years. Join us in our celebration! Complete information related to sponsorship and tickets is now available.


Save the date...


For our annual Bleakley, Schwartz, Cooney & Finney, LLC New Jersey SEEDS Annual Golf and Tennis Classic! The event will be held Monday, June 4 at the Mountain Ridge Country Club. Check your mail in the coming weeks for more information.