SEO Scholars, New York City, is the organization’s founding program. Since our inception in 1963, SEO Scholars has been committed to providing underserved students with the resources and guidance necessary to gain admission to, and graduation from, the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.
We began as a small mentoring program in New York City, and have since evolved into a free, rigorous, eight-year academic program that gets motivated public high school students to and through college - with a 90% college graduation rate. Today, we serve over 1,000 NYC high school students, representing more than 160 different public high schools in all five boroughs.
"I knew SEO would give me the best chance in the long term, but in the short term, I had work to do.
I spend my days in school and my weekends at SEO. Every other moment is spent sorting bottles. I don’t have time for sports, TV or just being a teenager. But with SEO, it feels like I have a way out. I'm not looking for charity, just opportunity. That’s what SEO has given to me. "
Dillon, Haverford Class of 2021
Large achievement gaps by race, gender, and income continue to exist in K-12 education in the United States. Despite being the largest and most diverse city in the country, New York City students from low-income backgrounds continue to face the same challenges reflected in our national achievement gap.
Fewer than half of the students who graduate from NYC public high schools graduate “college-ready”, with the lowest levels in the Bronx and Brooklyn, where students are disproportionately Black and Latinx. (source)
A 2017 study found significant gaps in achievement among different ethnic groups in math and reading standardized test scores, as early as third grade. By eighth grade, the gaps widened, with a significant decline in performance for Black and Latinx students in both subjects. (source)
Schools that serve predominantly Black and Latinx students have less qualified teachers than schools that serve predominantly-white students. (source)
Yet, we know that students assigned to “high value-added” teachers not only increase their test scores, but are also more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in neighborhoods with better resources, and have higher retirement savings. (source)
of SEO Scholars are accepted to four-year colleges.
We believe that zip codes should not dictate our Scholars’ futures and that education can break the cycle of poverty that has entrapped so many Americans. Our students not only deserve more, but we believe that they have the potential to achieve more. Through partnerships with our NYC public schools and their committed educators, we identify highly motivated students with a desire to improve themselves and their communities. Our Scholars succeed because we hold them to the highest of standards, engage them with rigorous and student-centered academic instruction, and provide them with individualized guidance and support through a team of dedicated staff and instructors.
"When I first heard of SEO I had zero interest, but my friends all applied.
At 13, I was unmoved by the promise of opportunity, I did succumb to positive peer pressure. And SEO changed my life. SEO believed in me more than I believed in myself."
Julio, Stanford Class of 2022
SEO empowers individuals to move from high school to college by focusing on college graduation.
- 100% of Scholars complete and submit the FAFSA. SEO Scholars in NYC apply for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program and receive one-on-one support to complete the CSS Profile for institutional aid.
- SEO Scholars regularly win competitive national scholarships including QuestBridge National College Match, The Posse Foundation Scholarship, The New York Times College Scholarship Program, and Horatio Alger Scholarships.
- The SEO Scholars High School Class of 2019 was awarded more than $4.1 million in scholarships and grant funds for their first year of college alone.
Donate to SEO Scholars New York City
SEO would not be able to impact the lives of students without the generous support of our donors. Your gift, no matter how big or small, goes a long way in helping us continue to propel human potential.
There are many ways to get involved with SEO Scholars. Find out how you can help now.
Get to know the dedicated individuals who collectively support our Scholars in New York City.
Our Local Partners
We are grateful to our partners who provide classroom space for our afterschool, Saturday, and Summer programs, in addition to our College Success Series, Summer Institute, and Winter Institute events.