Three of SEEDS’ Founders

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Blair MacInnes, William V. Engel and Mark J. Sandler | NJ SEEDS Trustees, 1992 - Present

“New Jersey SEEDS is more than just a comprehensive experience for students. From academic classes, emotional and social support, and friendships, to job placements, interviewing skills, college counseling, parent support, reunions, and alumni engagement, there is so much the organization does for its students and families. Once you are a part of NJ SEEDS, we never let you go!”

For SEEDS’ Founding Trustee and first Chair of the Board, Blair MacInnes, these words still ring true. She has been involved in the organization since its inception, and continues to serve the organization as an Emeritus Trustee. “One of my favorite memories is the quality, commitment and sheer delight of the first Board of Trustees. Many of us have remained life-long friends and remain committed to SEEDS.” Two of those fellow Founding Trustees who remain integral parts of the SEEDS family are current Trustee Emeriti Bill Engel and Mark Sandler.  

“In so many conversations with our graduates over the years, I often hear the same story,” shares Mark. “These students tell me that they grew up in urban areas. They share that they had no idea what the world was like or what they were capable of before SEEDS.”   

“We have shown that students from financially poorer backgrounds are not less capable than others; they just need to be given a chance and a challenge, and to have adults who believe in them,” explains Bill. “SEEDS has changed so many lives by giving opportunity with thoughtful support, not hand-outs. We have stayed true to the original mission of opening doors to economically challenged students across all racial, ethnic, and religious groups.”

Blair agrees: “I remember the first graduation, and thinking ‘we did it.’ It was a combined effort from all of us—the Board, our students and their families, and the SEEDS faculty and staff. Since then, SEEDS has sustained the value of the investment in the kids we serve. They were, and still are, the primary focus of NJ SEEDS, and we have not been distracted by anything else but them.”

But for all of the lives changed over the past 25 years, these three founding Trustees know that SEEDS’ work is far from done.

Bill encourages others to join in assisting SEEDS’ mission. “Your financial support of SEEDS can actually transform lives, in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Your investment is making sure that the most capable youth, no matter what their financial or personal circumstances, will have the opportunities to succeed and be our leaders of tomorrow in all fields. Our results and the achievements of our graduates show that the SEEDS formula works.”

And Blair adds, “There is no better investment. An initial gift to SEEDS generates thousands of dollars in scholarships earned by our students.”

Mark is most proud of the graduates whose lives have been changed by SEEDS and the impact those successes will have on the future. “I believe the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our SEEDS graduates will be vastly enriched by the brief time and relatively few dollars we invested all of those years before. There is a beautiful true story called The Daffodil Principle about a woman who planted a few yellow daffodils in a field behind a church every spring for over fifty years. By the end, there was gold as far as you could see. This is SEEDS’ legacy.”