Across Central Texas, children live with the shame and stigma that often comes with being challenged by parental incarceration.
When a child loses a parent to incarceration, they lose possibly the most significant person in their life. As a result they face significant risk factors that can make it difficult to succeed in school.
Seedling believes in the promise of every child: the promise of an education, the promise of a future, and the promise of all they can contribute to society.
Seedling mitigates the impact of parental incarceration on children in Central Texas through school-based mentoring.
All children in Central Texas who have an incarcerated parent have the opportunity to thrive.
The Seedling Mentor Program
Seedling launched our Mentor Program in February 2006 at the request of a group of school principals who were concerned about the growing number of children affected by the incarceration of one or both of their parents. Seedling recruits volunteers from the community, matches them with eligible children and offers ongoing support to both children and mentors. Our mentors provide stable, long-term relationships for the students that can help them develop and maintain positive attitudes towards school.
Since 2006, Seedling’s Mentor Program has served over 2500 students, with a presence at one time or another on 150+ campuses in 11 districts and 16 charter schools in Austin and Central Texas.
Seedling’s Mentor Program has gained national attention and awards for our successful approach to matching children and mentors in a large urban school district. The majority of our mentors return for an additional year or more of mentoring. Mentors, teachers, caregivers, and the students themselves report positive outcomes from participation in the program.
Supported, nurtured, and encouraged, the Seedling Mentor Program students can build the resilience necessary to overcome the challenges of their circumstances and fulfill the promise of their young lives.
“Even though I’ve made mistakes in life, you still accepted me for who I am and what I do. I can count on you without having fears. I love that we can connect like magnets, as we share our similar experiences.”
8th Grader, Seedling Mentee, Frances
“I remember introducing myself, and before I could say another word, she asked, “How long are you going to be my mentor?” I wanted her to now that I really was here for her and not to pry information from her or try to take the place of her parents or even to always talk to her but instead to listen.”
Frances’s mentor for three years, Lita
Seedling is made up of people just like you who are dedicated to making a difference in the life of a student attending public school.
For over a decade Seedling has worked collaboratively with corporations, organizations, and school districts to bring mentors into schools to build long term, sustainable relationships. Working with our mentors and partners, Seedling has invested thousands of hours to help change the landscape of education in Central Texas schools.
Since its inception in 1997, Seedling (formerly the Travis Community Education Foundation) has had at its core a deep concern for the safety, well-being, and prosperity of Austin area public schools, their students, their families, and their facilities. Founder and Austin attorney John C. Blazier often repeated the mantra: “As go the public schools in our community, so goes the health and well being of Austin.” In the early years of Seedling’s history, great effort and leveraged financial support resulted in the building of school-to-career institutes which still serve thousands of students annually as they prepare for careers in the culinary arts, health sciences, and automotive industry.
Mr. Blazier’s vision of keeping public schools attractive to taxpayers evolved into a major programming area for Seedling in its formative years. Saturday Campus Beautification projects, staffed by volunteers, resulted in the transformation of AISD facilities through landscaping, masonry, and painting. Every high school, middle school, and dozens of elementary schools have been touched by Seedling’s efforts to maintain public school facilities and, in so doing, foster confidence and support of public schools.
In 2006, in response to a request from Austin ISD principals, Seedling’s Mentor Program was born. The vision was to provide support, encouragement, information, and a nonjudgmental adult for children separated from one or both of their parents as a result of a prison sentence. Seedling hired its first Executive Director to provide the leadership for this bold vision and to put into place the scaffolding for an organization intent on building the community’s premier school mentor program. From the beginning, Seedling set the standard very high: The Seedling Mentor Program would be a research informed mentor program, serving only children of incarcerated parents, doing so only in a school setting, and providing the kind of support volunteer mentors would need to cultivate impactful long-term relationships.
Enhancements to the program include a donor-funded competitive scholarship program whereby 8th graders may have $5,000 awards held for them in trust until post-secondary enrollment; a 2013-2014 partnership with Sesame Street to distribute toolkits for parents of young children of prisoners; and 2014 campus-based support groups.
The feeling of helping a child build resilience and hope is