New Jersey SEEDS’ 25th Anniversary Benefit to Recognize Former Executive Director and SEEDS Alum as Leading Change Honorees

February 8, 2017 – Newark, NJ – As New Jersey SEEDS continues to celebrate 25 years of educational access, the organization announced that it will honor Amy Ziebarth and Soleio Cuervo at the 25th Anniversary Benefit on Thursday, April 27, 2017. SEEDS, an educational nonprofit that transforms the lives of high-achieving students from low-income families, presents the Leading Change Award annually in recognition of those whose initiative and commitment have enhanced the educational opportunities of young people throughout New Jersey.

“We are so excited to celebrate 25 years of success at New Jersey SEEDS,” explains John F. Castano, SEEDS’ Executive Director. “Our honorees for this year’s benefit represent our foundation and our future. Amy served SEEDS for fifteen years – twelve as the Executive Director. Her vision and passion for education equity and access both shaped and guided a young SEEDS organization and gave it the foundation for its quarter century of success. Of course, the greatest validation for any educator is seeing those aspirational young people grow into successful adults. That vision is realized in our other honoree, Soleio. Tremendously successful, inspiring and iconic in the tech world, Soleio now serves on the SEEDS Board of Trustees and helps steer the organization into the next 25 years. We are proud to honor Amy and Soleio at the 25th Anniversary Benefit.”

Amy Ziebarth is the former Executive Director of New Jersey SEEDS and the Head of School at Far Brook School. Amy served as Executive Director for twelve of her fifteen years at New Jersey SEEDS. During her tenure as Executive Director, Amy quadrupled the annual operating budget of SEEDS, increased the number of students served, and moved the headquarters from Hightstown to the heart of downtown Newark. During her leadership, Amy launched the Young Scholars Program (YSP) and the College Preparatory Program (CPP). She also led a successful $6 million capital campaign, earning SEEDS recognition from the Partnership in Philanthropy.

Amy's Headshot BW cropAmy has written about the need for educational opportunities for disadvantaged students in the New York Times, and has appeared on CNN and other news programs. In 2001, Amy was recognized by the Delbarton School as Educator of the Year. In 2003, she was the recipient of the Althea Gibson Award for Excellence in Public Service and was named a Woman of Influence by NJ BIZ.

“New Jersey SEEDS is near and dear to my heart, and I am honored to be recognized at their 25th Anniversary Benefit,” says Amy Ziebarth. “I am – and always have been – so proud of SEEDS students. SEEDS students have changed the face of independent schools for the better. Classes are richer, academic excellence is higher and there is a dramatically different educational experience – not only for the SEEDS students but for all students in these schools. I am so happy to be part of the SEEDS family and to help celebrate all of the accomplishments of the organization and students over the past quarter century.”

Soleio Cuervo is a member of New Jersey SEEDS’ Board of Trustees and a Founding Partner at Combine, a design studio and venture firm. Soleio graduated in one of SEEDS’ earliest classes of the Scholars Program in 1995 and attended St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Delaware. In 2003, he received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in music composition and multimedia design.

Soleio - WebSoleio was one of Facebook’s earliest designers and was responsible for designing several of the company’s seminal products and features, including the “Like” button. He then was head of design at Dropbox where he helped build an organization of over 40 top designers, researchers and creatives. Today, Soleio is an investor and advisor to Dropbox, Earnest and other early stage technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“It is such an honor to be the first alumni recipient of the Leading Change Award,” says Soleio Cuervo. “Being part of the SEEDS Scholars Program was pivotal in my life. I know firsthand the effect SEEDS can have on ambitious students, and I can trace all of my educational and professional opportunities back to my time in the program. I am incredibly grateful.”

New Jersey SEEDS’ 25th Anniversary Benefit will be held at the Pleasantdale Chateau on Thursday, April 27, 2017. For additional sponsorship information or to reserve your table, please contact MarrLa Brown at [email protected] or at 862.227.9142.

About New Jersey SEEDS
For 25 years, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. Since SEEDS’ founding in 1992, 2,296 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit