SEEDS – Access Changes Everything

Changing Lives Through Education

aka New Jersey SEEDS   |   Newark, NJ   |


SEEDS – Access Changes Everything changes the lives of motivated, high-achieving students from low-income families by transforming their educational opportunities. We ensure that our students have the knowledge, skills, access, and support to thrive at the nation's finest schools and colleges.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mr. John F. Castano

Main address

494 Broad Street Suite 105

Newark, NJ 07102 USA

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NTEE code info

Student Services and Organizations (B80)

Secondary/High School (B25)

Undergraduate College (4-year) (B42)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

SEEDS – Access Changes Everything strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity, and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Scholars Program

The Scholars Program is New Jersey SEEDS' oldest program and its largest. The 14-month program for 8th graders is composed of two three-week residential sessions (The Hill School, Pottstown, Pa.) and Saturdays during the academic year (Morristown-Beard School, Morristown, NJ; The Pingry School, Basking Ridge, NJ; Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, NJ). SEEDS' rigorous, advanced coursework sharpens students' skills in mathematics and language arts, builds test taking skills to prepare for the SSAT, and introduces concepts in human behavior to encourage self-awareness and confidence in new social situations. After the program concludes, SEEDS places its Scholars at selective day and boarding schools across the country with robust financial aid packages.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

The Young Scholars Program (YSP) provides academic preparation and leadership development to 5th and 6th graders in Greater Newark. The program consists of two, five-week summer sessions (Delbarton School, Morristown, NJ) and classes each Saturday throughout the academic year (Newark Academy, Livingston, NJ). Students participate in workshops on essay writing and interviewing skills, take test preparation for the SSAT, participate in peer book clubs, are exposed to the arts, and engage in academic classes. After completion of the program, Young Scholars are placed in day and junior boarding schools with robust financial aid packages.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

SEEDS' Guidance team works with students in their placement schools, helping scholars to navigate the academic, social, cultural, emotional and family challenges that often arise during the transition to to a new environment. Guidance works with graduates of our Scholars and Young Scholars Programs through their high school graduation. Guidance also works with College Preparatory Program graduates while in college. Guidance team members visit students in their placement schools and colleges annually; host several college tours each year; organize a College Fair with representatives from colleges and universities across the country; help students and families navigate the financial aid process; and assist in placing students in internships and opportunities.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Children and youth

The College Scholars program is a 17-month immersion experience for top-performing students from public high schools within 25 miles of Newark. Students spend Saturdays during the spring of their junior year and all of their senior year with SEEDS, in addition to a three-week residential session prior to the 12th grade. Students are then placed in selective colleges and universities.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work


2009 Neighborhood Builder Excellence Award 2009

Bank of America

4-star ranking 2020

Charity Navigator

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The overarching goal of SEEDS – Access Changes Everything is to transform the educational opportunities of high-achieving, low-income students throughout New Jersey. Each of our three academic programs (Scholars, Young Scholars, and College Scholars) provide the necessary academic and social preparation for our students to enroll in selective schools and colleges.

Our strategy for reaching our goal relies on the following six pillars.
1. An extremely thorough and selective admissions process.
2. A rigorous and intensive academic program.
3. A curriculum that includes enriching cultural experiences and emotional and social development.
4. One-on-one placement assistance and advocacy.
5. Professional guidance services provided to all SEEDS alumni through their placement school years.
6. A unique Parents Program that sustains the families of our students throughout the SEEDS process.

Since 1992, SEEDS – Access Changes Everything has established an extraordinary record of accomplishment in its areas of expertise:

- Identifying students in low-income areas who have the ability to succeed in the most challenging academic environments,
- Providing targeted and highly effective academic coursework to supplement the school curriculum and rapidly advance student achievement,
- Motivating students to perform at exceptionally high levels among a community of peers,
- Developing leadership and social skills that are crucial to success at competitive institutions,
- Placing students at carefully selected and appropriately matched schools and colleges, and
- Ensuring long-term success through systematic guidance.

Since SEEDS/ founding in 1992, nearly 3,000 students have graduated from its Scholars, Young Scholars, and College Preparatory Programs. More than 2,000 alumni are continuing their educations in colleges or graduate schools or contributing their talents to the workforce. More than 850 students are served annually by SEEDS' education and guidance programs.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Students from low-income households.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Our alumni expressed that they wanted to understand how SEEDS program has changed since they were students. We implemented a semi-annual State of SEEDS address to tell our alumni about changes to programs, how we are preparing students for placement in independent schools, and familiarize them with our Board structure.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback


SEEDS – Access Changes Everything

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

SEEDS – Access Changes Everything

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Theo Lubke

Janice Beckmen

Paul R. DeRosa

Mount Lucas Management Corp. (ret)

Vincent Lima

Moelis & Co.

Theo R Lubke

Goldman Sachs

Andrew M. Okun

The Watermark Group

Andy Schwartz

Bleakley Financial Group

Lee Shavel

Verisk Analytics

Andrew M Thompson

Notch Partners LLC

Emmanuel Bello

Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Elliot Berndt

Don Austin

Newark Academy

Soleio Cuervo


Doug Rotatori

Odyssey Investment Partners LLC

Brian R. Sterling

Sandler O'Neill and Partners LP

Gayle Wieseneck

John F. Castano

SEEDS – Access Changes Everything

Crystal Broussard

Bergen Medical Associates

David Kwon


Polly Palumbo

Momma Data

Donald M. Austin

Newark Academy

Theresa Brentjens, MD

Columbia University Medical Center

Matt Levinson


Calvin Millien

The Sasha Group

Robin Oxendine

Carol Pak-Teng

, Jersey City Medical Center

Grace Qiu

Across International

Anju Thomas

Education Advocate

Amy Zieberth

Far Brook School

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/1/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/01/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.