New Jersey SEEDS Transforms Education

New Jersey SEEDS offers programs to help enhance the education of many students with low-income families in the community.

New Jersey SEEDS offers academic programs for motivated students.

new jersey SEEDS
Dean of Programs Imani Gilliam with Cavalier Scholarship recipient Santiago Vargas (Scholars ’15, Saddle River Day School ’19) at SEEDS’ graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of NJ SEEDS.

New Jersey SEEDS is a statewide nonprofit that changes the lives of high-achieving students from low-income families by transforming their educational opportunities. According to Ronni Denes, President of New Jersey SEEDS, each of SEEDS’ academic programs is designed to “rapidly build the critical thinking skills, knowledge base, emotional intelligence and cultural understanding that will allow students to thrive in far more challenging school environments than those from which they come.” SEEDS then places students at selective day and boarding schools or colleges and universities across the country with substantial financial aid packages. Over the course of two decades, more than 2,100 scholars have benefited from its programs.

Denes works with a team of 25 full time staff members and a 27-member Board of Trustees. Since Denes’ arrival at SEEDS in March 2011, SEEDS has educated nearly 900 students and provided guidance to graduates in their placement schools.

New Jersey SEEDS launched the College Scholars Program, which is a 17-month academic immersion experience designed to prepare and place top-performing, low-income students from comprehensive high schools into highly selective colleges.

“The program consists of academic classes each Saturday during the spring of students’ eleventh-grade year, and throughout twelfth grade,” said Denes. “In addition, during the summer before their senior year in high school, students participate in a three-week residency on a college campus. College Scholars will be exposed to rigorous academics  in addition to workshops designed to develop college survival skills. With the assistance of SEEDS, students will undertake a comprehensive college search, complete with campus tours, visits from college representatives, counseling, mentoring, and fly-in weekend applications.”

Something that makes SEEDS’ College Scholars Program stand out is that there is a resolute focus on persistence, which is as critical to successful outcomes for low-income students as preparation. SEEDS’ Guidance Department will provide personal, supportive services to College Scholars graduates during their freshman and sophomore years in college.

new jersey SEEDS
Kofi Oduro-Manu (Young Scholars ’15, All Saints Episcopal Day School ’18) with his father at SEEDS’ graduation in August. Photo courtesy of NJ SEEDS.

“Through SEEDS’ network of support, we have been able to provide our scholars with the same educational opportunities often available only to students from more affluent backgrounds,” said Denes.

If you are looking to get involved with NJ SEEDS, there are many ways for you to stay connected. Some ways are volunteering for mock admissions interviews, sharing your career experiences with graduates, offering summer internships, helping to assemble care packages or becoming a donor. If you would like to learn about other ways to get involved please contact SEEDS’ Director of Development, Karen Gonon at or at 862.227.9149.

Additionally, New Jersey SEEDS is currently recruiting students for the first class of its College Scholars Program, according to Denes. Interested students must have completed 10th grade by June 2015, and want to attend a highly selective four-year college or university. To apply, students must be in the top 10 percent of their high school class, enrolled in the most rigorous coursework available and must be nominated by their guidance counselors. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and meet SEEDS’ income requirements.

New Jersey SEEDS is also looking for motivated, high-achieving students from low-income families to apply for admission to the Scholars and Young Scholars Classes of 2017. Interested students must be high-performing and well-rounded students with A’s and B’s on their report cards. Students must be looking for an academic challenge, be willing to step out of their comfort zone and want to attend a competitive school on scholarship. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and meet SEEDS’ income requirements.

The work of New Jersey SEEDS is helping to transform educational experience for countless students; get involved today or visit to stay connected!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login