June 2012

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Congratulations SEEDS 

scholars and alumni!


Dear Friends of SEEDS,


Here at New Jersey SEEDS, nothing makes us happier than to see our students and alumni excel. So when we saw Britney Wilson (Scholars '04, Cambridge School of Weston '08, Barnard College '12) on the front page of The New York Times meeting President Obamawe were ecstatic. 


Britney was selected as the student presenter of the 
Photo courtesy of New York Times, Doug Mills/New York Times.
Barnard Medal of Distinction - a college commencement tradition 
and a great honor for the student chosen. Britney was nominated based on her academic performance and leadership over the course of her four years at Barnard. As part of the honor, she gave a speech at commencement and was the only student sitting on stage as a member of the platform party. This was how Britney had the opportunity to meet and speak with President Obama, Barnard's commencement speaker. 


I asked Britney what the President shared with graduates that resonated with her as a SEEDS alumna. She said two main points that reminded her of the lessons she learned with SEEDS. 


The first was: "Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table." Britney explained that "NJ SEEDS teaches its scholars to push further and further in life, just as President Obama encouraged the Barnard Class of 2012 to do. It was not enough for SEEDS scholars to perform well within schools in our neighborhoods. Instead, we were encouraged to apply, attend and perform well in some of the nation's most competitive schools. SEEDS helped us understand the importance of education and becoming well-educated early on."


The second piece of advice that resonated with Britney was, "Never underestimate the power of your example." When I asked Britney why this was important to her, she explained that "New Jersey SEEDS has been creating amazing role models, mentors, examples and leaders for the past 20 years. In fact, I completed SEEDS because of a scholar in the Class of 2000."


She continued to tell me that by supporting scholars who would not have had the opportunity to escape their underfunded high schools or violent neighborhoods, SEEDS paved the way for these students to succeed. "Children really need role models to look up to, and it means a lot to them when there is someone with a life story similar to their own who gets an opportunity to meet the President, graduates from college or becomes a professional. I've mentored children, and whenever they ask me how I got where I am, the first stage of life that I mention is SEEDS. New Jersey SEEDS doesn't only change lives, it creates leaders and role models, pushing its scholars to 'fight for seats at the head of the table.' "


Britney is headed to Tufts University, where she will be working as a biomedical researcher. Next year, she will apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs. She is interested in cancer research, and her hope is to one day become a physician scientist specializing in pediatric oncology. She is truly an example that others can look up to. 


Congratulations to Britney and the rest of our alumni who have graduated from independent school and college this spring, as well as all of the graduates from SEEDS programs. We are so proud of all that you have accomplished, and we look forward to hearing about all of your successes to come!


Best regards,


Ronni Denes


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Happenings at SEEDS


CPP Seniors Graduate from SEEDS

On June 11, CPP's 27 seniors 
graduated from the SEEDS program. The 15 students from Orange High School and 12 students from The Academies at Englewood and Dwight Morrow

Members of the CPP Class of 2012 along with Barry Ford, Dean of CPP, and Mariana Morales, CPP Program Officer

High School (in Englewood) received 117 acceptances from 67 colleges and universities across the country. All of the students plan to enroll in college in the fall.  


To celebrate three years of accomplishments with SEEDS, more than 100 family members and friends gathered at The Newark Club. Student speaker Charlayne Davis shared her favorite memories with those gathered, and SEEDS President Ronni Denes provided advice to the recent graduates through the words of Nicki Minaj's "Moments for Life." Check out all our photos from the event here.


CPP graduates will be attending the following colleges and universities: Antioch College, Bard College, Boston University, Centenary College, College of St. Elizabeth, Colorado College, Denison University, Dickinson College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Lehigh University, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Montclair State University, Pine Manor College, Rowan University, Rutgers University - New Brunswick, St. John's University, The College of New Jersey and the University of New Haven. 


Placement Overview

One hundred percent of SEEDS Scholars and Young Scholars have been placed for matriculation in Fall 2012 with enough financial aid to allow them to attend school. The independent school community contributed more than $3.3 million dollars in aid to allow SEEDS Scholars to attend, up from $2.9 million last year.
 Of special note, three of our Young Scholars have aid packages that include full tuition, transportation and books, as well as stipends for summer learning experiences!


In the next academic year, 17 SEEDS Young Scholars will be attending: CFS, The School at Church Farm; Chatham Day School; Eaglebrook School;Far Brook School; Fay School; Gill St. Bernard's School;Morristown-Beard School; Newark Academy; Peck School;Rectory School; and St. Philip's Academy.


Next year, our 86 SEEDS Scholars will be attending: Asheville School;Brooks School; Buxton School; Cate School; CFS, The School at Church Farm; Cheshire Academy; Dana Hall School; Delbarton School; Dublin School; Dwight-Englewood School; East Orange STEM Academy; Elizabeth High School; 

SEEDS Scholars interviewing at Taft in Feb. 2012 along with SEEDS alum Kaiima Griffith (SEEDS '09, Taft '13)

Elizabeth High School-Lower Academy; Episcopal High School; Fryeburg Academy; Garrison Forest School; George School; 

Gill St. Bernard's School; Governor's Academy; Groton School; Hill School; Hotchkiss School; Hun School of Princeton; Kent Place School; Kiski School; Knox School; Lawrenceville School; Loomis Chaffee School; Madeira School; Masters School; Middlesex School;Moorestown Friends School; Morristown-Beard School; Mt. St. Dominic Academy; Newark Collegiate; Oak Knoll School; Passaic County Technical Institute; Peddie School; Pennington School; Phillips Exeter Academy; The Pingry School; Princeton Day School; Putney School; Salem Academy; Seton Hall Prep; Solebury School; St. Andrew's School; St. Mark's School; St. Paul's School; Storm King School; Stuart Country Day School; Taft School; Tacher School; The Hudson School; Wardlaw-Hartridge School; West Nottingham Academy; Western Reserve Academy; Westminster School; Westover School; Westtown School; White Mountain School. 


Scholars and Young Scholars Programs Begin in June

Our Young Scholars Program officially kicks off June 25 at Delbarton School in Morristown. This year, SEEDS reviewed over 130 applications for just 25 spots, so competition for admission was intense. This year's class is made up of 12 rising fifth graders and 13 rising sixth graders.


For admission to this year's Scholars Program, SEEDS saw more than 600 applications for 125 spots in our Summer Challenge Program, kicking off June 24. Ninety-five of these students will be selected to continue to Leadership Week and then Scholars Academy Saturdays, sponsored by The Coach Foundation, beginning in the fall.


Scholars and Young Scholars to Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art

On Saturday, May 12, our Scholars and Young Scholars took their annual Arts Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before visiting the Museum, students researched a work of art; on site, they shared their research with their classmates, teachers and 


Following the visit to the Met, our scholars headed to Broadway, where the Scholars saw a performance of Clybourne Park and our Young Scholars saw Sister Act.


Check out our photos from the day here.

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Recent and Upcoming Events


New Jersey SEEDS Hosts Annual College Day


This Saturday, June 16, SEEDS will host its annual college day at St. Philip's Academy in Newark. The fair will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending must RSVP to Kate Levine at or Colin Kuusisto at


Earlier in the day, SEEDS High School Scholars and their families are encouraged to attend our workshops. Sessions that will be offered include: 

  • College Admissions 101: It's senior year - now what? Learn what you need to be doing this summer and in the fall in order to be successful.
  • Finding the Right Fit: Discover the different types of college and find out which type of school will put you on the best path toward your career goals.
  • Writing the College Essay: Learn to write a compelling college essay during this workshop.
  • College Myths: "Testing is more important than grades." "Large universities have more diversity." "Public colleges are more affordable." Learn which myths hold some truth and which need to be debunked.
  • College Life and Engagement: While getting into college is the short term goal, graduation is the end goal. Hear tips on how to succeed and graduate from college. 
SEEDS High School Scholars must contact the Guidance Department to attend these sessions. Please contact (973) 642-6422 ASAP to reserve your spot.

Annual Young Scholars Program Luncheon 


This year's luncheon will take place at Delbarton School, and is scheduled for July 19. Please join us for this annual event in which supporters of SEEDS have the opportunity to meet some of our current Young Scholars. Please contact Sarah Cassidy at for more information.


Bleakley, Schwartz, Cooney & Finney, L.L.C. Golf and 

Tennis Classic to be held August 6


Due to inclement weather, New Jersey SEEDS postponed the 17th Annual Bleakley, Schwartz, Cooney & Finney, L.L.C. Golf & Tennis Classic. The event will now be held on Monday, August 6 at the Mountain Ridge Country Club. 


Registration and brunch begin at 10:30, with our Golf Shotgun at 11:30. Registration for the Tennis Tournament will start at 2:00 with the event beginning at 2:30. Afterwards, please join us for a cocktail reception and dinner, including the announcement of auction and raffle winners

Don't forget to purchase your raffle tickets in our "Second Chance Sale!" Prizes for this year's raffle winners will be: an iPad 2, a Nikon Projection Camera, and a Calloway Razr Driver. 


At the event, some of our live and silent auction items will be: golfing experience at Carton House in Ireland; private tour of Castle Howard in York; week-long stay at a luxury Aspen condo; seven days in a Tuscan apartment; photo shoot and portrait package from Hartshorn Portraiture; autographed Notre Dame memorabilia; iPad 3; Adler Grier jewelry; tickets to Yo Yo Ma; and more.


For additional questions, to RSVP for the event, or to place an absentee bid, please contact Sarah Cassidy at