History

Michael Osheowitz, founder of
SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity)

1963

SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity) was founded by investment banking consultant, Michael Osheowitz, as a mentoring program to help underserved students gain admission to competitive colleges and universities. He recruited executives at top firms in law, finance, and advertising to work one-on-one with his “Scholars” to help get them into colleges such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Williams, Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Columbia, and Brown as well as SUNY and CUNY schools.

1980

SEO Career launches as a sum­mer intern­ship pro­gram for under­rep­re­sented col­lege stu­dents. In the first summer, 11 SEO Career Interns are placed at four investment banks.

2000

SEO London launches.

2006

U.S. Department of Education research shows that “A” grades in low-income schools equal “C” grades in affluent schools. SEO’s founding program is transformed from a mentor-focused experience to a rigorous, out-of-school academic program — SEO Scholars — that begins in the 9th grade and continues through college graduation.

SEO moves its headquarters to the heart of the Financial District in New York City.

SEO Career launches in China.

2009

SEO Alternative Investments launches to provide education, exposure, training, and mentoring opportunities to talented professionals traditionally underrepresented in the alternative investments sector.

SEO Career launches in Vietnam.

2010

SEO Scholars is independently recommended to donors as a high-performing organization in the College Access and Success field by Social Impact Research, an independent research department of Root Cause.

Read SEO’s Newsletters from Winter 2010.

2011

SEO Scholars expands to San Francisco.

The College Board recognizes SEO Scholars as one of the recipients of the 2011 CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Awards. The $5,000 grant helps sustain the program, recognizing our “innovation and demonstrated efficacy in increasing the percentage of low-income students who are ready for, get into or get through college successfully.”

2012

An independent evaluation confirms that SEO Scholars closes the achievement gap for low-income students.

Over 1,000 New York City rising 9th graders applied for 127 spots in SEO Scholars.

SEO Career places 321 college interns at 55 partner companies and organizations.

SEO is selected as one of the top-performing non-profits in the country by Social Impact Exchange’s new giving platform, S&I 100. Each of the 100 organizations included has been rigorously screened for proof of impact and ability to expand.

Read SEO’s Newsletter from Winter and Summer 2012.

2013

A record $6.4 million is raised at SEO’s 50th Anniversary Awards Dinner.

SEO Scholars is recognized by The New York Times, The New York Post, PBS American Graduate Day, USA Today, NBC Latino, MundoFOX and others.

SEO Career launches in Ghana, Africa.

Read SEO’s Newsletter from Summer 2013.

Invest in SEO’s Future

2014

Henry Kravis is named chairman of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.

Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator, awards SEO its fifth four-star rating.

2015

SEO Scholars doubles its impact in NYC by welcoming its largest class of 9th grade public high school students ever.

Read SEO’s Newsletter from Summer 2015.

2016

The Opportunity Makers, The First Half-Century of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity is published by Charles Rutheiser.

Read SEO’s Newsletter from Fall 2016.

2017

Charity Navigator awards SEO with a Perfect 100 Score for financial accountability and transparency. This score places SEO in the top 1% of all charities in the U.S.

2019

A record $7.5+ million is raised at SEO’s Annual Awards Dinner.

Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator, awards SEO a coveted four-star rating for its sound fiscal management, the eighth time SEO earns this distinction. Less than 5% of nonprofits have eight straight four-star ratings.

Read our SEO Newsletter from Summer and Fall 2019.