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Project SEED

Project SEED is a national program in which research scientists mentor economically disadvantaged high-school students for an 8-10 week summer research experience.

Scope. There are roughly 400 students/year in the program, of whom about 75% are participating for their first summer and 25% for their second. All told, about 5,000 students and 350 research institutions have participated in Project SEED since its inception in 1968.

Mentors. The mentors are research scientists from academe, industry, and government, as well as graduate students who have been recruited by the ACS. Each year, the ACS mails notices to all two- and four-year colleges, chairs of ACS local sections, and institutions that have previously participated in the program.

The mentors are unpaid, receive no stipends for supplies, and receive no special training. Yet, the enthusiasm of some is so great that they have been in the program since its beginning. These mentors not only develop research skills in their students but sometimes also arrange for career seminars and special mathematics and English courses for them.

Student Recruitment and Participation Requirements. Chemical researchers who want to participate in the program advertise its availability to local high schools. The chemistry teachers at these schools identify the students who could benefit from the experience. The researchers select their students and send a request for funding of their summer program to the ACS Committee on Project SEED.

To participate, students must

  • have completed a year of high school chemistry
  • be entering their junior or senior year in high school
  • meet financial guidelines
  • have expressed an interest in scientific research

Typically, around 65% of the students are from minority groups, and 62% are female.

Financial Support for Students. Students receive financial support in a variety of ways:

  • Stipends-- Students in their first summer receive a $1,500 stipend; students returning for a second summer receive $1,700.
  • Travel to a scientific meeting-- In their second summer, students receive up to $100 toward travel expenses to present their research at a scientific meeting.
  • Some students also receive college scholarships from the ACS.

Impact. Short-term impact is hard to determine, although at the end of each summer, participating students and mentors are surveyed and their reactions used to improve the program. The reactions have been highly favorable. On a more objective basis, several SEED students present poster sessions at professional meetings for work done in their high school years.

An extensive effort to determine SEED's long-term impact began in 1995, with the ACS locating and surveying former SEED students. Results include the following:

  • Some 80% of these students had completed a degree of some kind, ranging from associate degrees to professional degrees.
  • Project SEED had been a pivotal experience for these students-- an experience that made a difference, not necessarily in test scores but in opportunity, not necessarily in job salary but in job satisfaction.
  • Even former participants who are now approaching the age of 50 said that Project SEED had given them a tremendous boost in confidence.

Funding. Almost all student stipends are paid for either from the multi-million dollar Project SEED Endowment (the result of an ACS Capital Campaign) or from donations by industry and ACS members. In some cases, participating institutions find local funds to match ACS money. The administrative costs of the program are paid for by the ACS from member dues.

For more information about Project SEED, see the Seed Website

Or contact:

R. Rasheed
Phone: 202-872-4380

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