Community Improvement, Capacity Building

Seedling Foundation

Mentor Nurture Grow

aka Seedling

Austin, TX


.Seedling's mission is to support children challenged by parental incarceration with innovative, research-driven, school-based mentoring.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Mr. Dan Leal

Main Address

8001 Centre Park Drive Suite 140

Austin, TX 78754 USA


school based mentoring, children of incarcerated parents,children of prisoners, at-risk children





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Urban, Community (S31)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

A report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that the trauma of being separated from a parent due to incarceration can increase the likelihood of a child experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and can hamper academic achievement (A Shared Sentence, 2016). We know that mentoring can be an effective and impactful intervention for at-risk children and was therefore the chosen method in 2005 when Austin ISD school principals requested help from Seedling for attendance and disciplinary challenges faced by this underserved population of youth. Incarceration is categorized as a Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) which are stressful or traumatic events that are linked to a wide range of health and behavior problems over a person’s lifespan. These children not only grieve the loss of their parent, but experience a combination of trauma and shame that if ignored can create a trajectory for poor life outcomes. Need: 8000 cihldren in Central Texas. .

Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seedling Mentor Program

Scholarship Program

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The goal of our program is for 100% of students served by Seedling to build resiliency and achieve the protective factor of a close, sustained mentoring relationship with a caring, adult role model. Our Mentor Program increases social-emotional learning and promotes positive attitudes toward school through innovative, research-driven, school-based mentoring. Through a cost-effective model of partnering with school personnel, the program implements nationally recommended standards around mentor training, mentor/mentee monitoring, and support to achieve the two hallmarks of quality mentoring: relationship closeness and match longevity. In 2016-2017, Seedling served 591 children across 116 schools in central Texas. According to our 2016-2017 independent program evaluation, 93% of Seedling mentees rated their relationships as “close” and 83% of mentees experienced postiive dscipline outcomes in school. Mentees also rated even with a similar population group academically.

New mentors are recruited through businesses or self referral, screened, and undergo a comprehensive background check. New mentors receive a 2.75 hour mandatory orientation designed and facilitated by Seedling using the most current research around mentoring best practices. The volunteer meets with the child one day a week at school, during lunchtime, during the academic school year. During these one-to-one visits, the mentor serves as a good listener, a sounding board, and a nonjudgmental friend. The time may be spent allowing the child freedom to read, play games, complete craft activities, or engage in conversation, according to the child’s choice. The talk may be about commonplace matters, about current events, or about school, social or family problems the child is facing including those that may result from the shame and stigma they feel. Through these visits, mentors are helping the student identify and nurture strengths and to develop their own goals and aspirational thinking.

Seedling Foundation was founded in 1998 to provide support for Austin ISD. The Seedling Mentor Program was launched in 2006 in Austin ISD in response to requests by school principals concerned with the unique needs of the growing population of children in their schools with a parent in prison and the lack of support services available to help. Seedling now focuses on providing children impacted by parental incarceration with research-based practices proven to positively affect their life outcomes. Seedling's professoinal staff averges 21 years of experience in youth service delivery. The Executive Director has over 24 years of not for profit management experience. Seedling is widely recognized by state and national mentoring organizations for its model, research based approach. Seedling features partnership with CIty of Austin, Travis County, Hays County and several state organizations which view Seedling as a solid, reputable organization.

This goal will be achieved through the following measurable outcomes: ● Seedling will provide new or support returning trained adult mentors to 667 students in the 2018-19 school year who have incarcerated parents. Seedling will provide mentors creating stable, long term relationships for the students and will help them develop and maintain positive attitudes towards school. ● 80% of Seedling students will maintain (for students who don’t necessarily need improvement) or improve behavior as reflected in the number of disciplinary referrals. ● 70% of Seedling students will maintain or improve school attendance. ● 50% of Seedling mentees will maintain or improve their STAAR Reading and STAAR Math scores. ● 90% of Seedling mentees will report high levels of academic self-confidence, social-emotional learning, and hope. ● 90% of Seedling mentees will report a feeling of closeness with their mentor. ● 80% of matches will exceed 3 months in length.

Annually, Seedling contracts an evaluation of the Seedling Mentor Program. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify program areas of strength and challenge and to use the results for ongoing program development. The program evaluation is designed to determine whether the Seedling Mentor Program met expected outcomes related to three major program objectives: 1. The Seedling Mentor Program will implement structures and employ strategies to provide mentees with positive, close relationships with nurturing and competent adult. 2. Seedling mentees will experience positive changes in resilience, self-regulation skills, self-efficacy, and school connectedness. 3. Seedling mentees will experience academic outcomes (e.g., attendance, discipline and STAAR results) similar to or better than those of similar non-participants. Next is a plan to grow the mentoring program to serve 1000 children by the 2022-23 school year, add schools, and provide increased opportunities for older children.

External Reviews



Seedling Foundation

Fiscal year: Aug 01 - Jul 31

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

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

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Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity