Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) is an organization that is dedicated to fostering leadership through education. Investment banker Michael Osheowitz founded SEO in 1963, recognizing the need for a program that would support low-income students’ pursuit of a higher education. Osheowitz envisioned a mentoring program to support underserved students in gaining admission to private colleges and universities, which, according to the organization’s history, were dominated by white, affluent students at the time of SEO’s formation. Fast forward to 2013, in which an astounding $6.4 million was raised for SEO’s growing number of programs and initiatives to support young people achieve a college education.
Over time, SEO has bolstered its educational programs and has been able to broaden its impact on low-income students. The organization “provides superior educational and career programs to young people from underserved communities to maximize their opportunities for college and careers success,” according to its website. SEO was conceived as an answer to the economic gap that exists in our country’s education system; its programs allow students to flourish regardless of their economic status.
According to SEO’s series of core beliefs,
“We believe that education can break the cycle of poverty that has entrapped so many Americans. We believe that with rigorous out-of-school-time academic support and advising, low-income public school students can attend and excel at America’s top colleges and universities despite their economic circumstances. We believe that America’s economic future depends on ensuring that students from all walks of life get the education they need to make a substantial contribution to our society.”
These three central principles of the organization are what drive its sponsors, educators, and ultimately its students, to succeed. The SEO Scholars department is dedicated to transforming public high school students into college graduates, by bridging the gaps that can make earning a higher education so difficult. The mentorship provided by SEO not only cultivates strong learners and leaders, but addresses economic disparities and challenges the current educational structure.
The organization recently named businessman and education advocate Henry Kravis as its new chairman, a decision which will certainly help bolster SEO’s leadership. Kravis, who has been dedicated to fostering educational programs and to academic philanthropy, is an obvious choice for the position and is expected to help expand SEO’s programs even further. After all, it’s the dedicated sponsors that help make SEO such a profoundly influential organization, working every day to help realize founder Michael Osheowitz’s vision.
For more information about SEO or how to get involved, visit the organization’s official website.