Social Capitalists: SEED Foundation
Eric Adler & Rajiv Vinnakota, managing directors
The SEED Foundation establishes urban public boarding schools that prepare children academically and socially for success in college and in the professional world. Founded by Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota, the foundation created the SEED model and opened its first school, The SEED School of Washington, D.C., in 1998.
The SEED School's round-the-clock academic and social skills curriculum delivers a top-caliber, college-preparatory boarding education to 320 urban children in grades seven through twelve, many of whom lack access to the resources necessary for success. The SEED School's 24-hour-a-day program integrates academic training with life skills to prepare students for college. Students enter SEED in the seventh grade and commit to a six-year college-preparatory program. They live in dormitories, benefiting from an integrated curriculum of academic, extracurricular and life skills, and take on mentoring roles, community service and personal responsibilities. The School provides students with intensive academic and social curricula, comfortable accommodations, three nutritious meals a day and an elaborate support network.
The Foundation made the concept of an urban boarding school a reality by creating a partnership between federal, city and private entities, thereby establishing a funding stream to sustain the operation of a boarding school and build a permanent campus. It has partnered with the federal government, the D.C. District Council and the D.C. Public Charter School Board, among others. While securing funds from the city and federal governments, SEED also launched a private fundraising campaign. The School is a financially sustainable institution and serves as a national model for additional schools.
SEED's model is unique, because it created a boarding school for public school students located in the students' local community. Since family support is a necessary component of student success, The SEED School was built in southeast D.C., accessible and convenient for urban students and their families.
Ninety-eight percent of students at The SEED School in Washington, D.C. have been accepted to four-year colleges or universities. The success of the first SEED school has created an opportunity for the foundation to build a network of schools nationwide.
The Foundation has reviewed the opportunities and challenges of replicating its model and defined criteria for evaluating expansion options. The SEED Foundation will open a second school in Maryland in September, 2008, and has plans to open additional schools in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the country.
By creating a replicable model and working with local and national education leaders, the Foundation aims to have a long-term impact on urban education. With The SEED School of Washington, D.C. as a prototype, the Foundation hopes to stimulate the proliferation of publicly-funded boarding schools that serve at-risk urban youth. Achieving this goal would not only further the foundation's mission of preparing children for success in college and beyond, but will begin a process to level academic and social playing fields for future generations.