Mission: To provide superior educational and career programs to young people from underserved and underrepresented communities and maximize their opportunities for college and career success.
About the Organization: Sponsors for Educational Opportunity was founded in New York City in 1963 by investment banking consultant Michael Osheowitz, who wanted to help underserved students gain admission to elite, largely white private colleges and universities. Osheowitz's strategy was to recruit executives at top law, finance, and advertising firms to mentor and help disadvantaged high school students navigate the college admissions process. In 1980, SEO established a career program to provide university students with summer internships at Wall Street investment banking firms. In the more than three decades since then, the organization has spread across the United States and into Asia, and in 2000 it opened a London branch. In 2006, SEO transformed its signature program – SEO Scholars – from a mentor-centered experience to a rigorous, out-of-school academic program that works with kids from the start of high school through their graduation from college. The organization is supported programmatically and financially by more than a hundred corporations and private grantmakers. PND published a commentary by the organization's CEO, William Goodloe, in 2014, that explains more about its approach and goals.
Current Programs: SEO Scholars, a free eight-year academic program that helps low-income public high school students get into and through college, boasts a 95 percent graduation rate from institutions of higher education across the country, including Cornell, Dartmouth, and MIT. SEO Career is a summer internship and training program for underrepresented college students, with a focus on banking, corporate leadership, law, alternative investments, and nonprofit management. The organization also encourages participants in the program to give back through a mandatory philanthropy program that has contributed more than half a million dollars to over thirty-five nonprofit organizations since 2004. In addition, SEO Career program alumni who receive full-time job offers from Wall Street firms are offered a spot in a six-month investment banking training program. The SEO Alternative Investments program provides education, work experience, training, and mentoring opportunities to professionals traditionally underrepresented in the alternative investments sector.
Website: SEO's site is rich in professionally produced videos that feature man-on-the-street interviews with program participants, teachers, and supervisors. Visitors to the site can also view information about the organization's events and press, download quarterly newsletters, and donate to the organization, while alumni can read about volunteer and professional development opportunities, get involved in a regional alumni chapter, and/or look for jobs on the organization's career center.
Funding: SEO is funded by corporations, foundations, and individuals.