Nonprofit Celebrates 15 Years Of Mentoring Annapolis Students With Low Incomes


From left to right: Seeds 4 Success mother BeLawn McGowan, student London Eades, Volunteer Manager Caitlin Tobies and Executive Director Jen Pastrone smile together outside the Annapolis nonprofit’s headquarters. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

ANNAPOLIS, MD - London Eades isn’t your typical 7th grader. The Bates Middle School student has already mapped out college paths to become a police officer or a doctor. She balances these academic goals with her obligations as an accomplished dancer who's been grooving since age 3.

Eades brings a smile to her weekly mentoring session with Alison Klein. Thanks to this free mentorship through Seeds 4 Success, Eades has blossomed into an even more motivated student.

Seeds 4 Success is hosting a fundraiser next month to celebrate 15 years of mentoring students from neighborhoods with low incomes. The Annapolis nonprofit practices academics, teaches life skills and develops college or career readiness. The partnership between Eades and Klein shows how this extra attention can lift a child to new heights.

“She just impresses me with her maturity,” Klein told Patch. “I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to connect with someone who is so wise.”

Klein has mentored at Seeds 4 Success for about 5 years, and she’s been paired with Eades since 2021.

Their relationship has become so much more than a tutor session. The partners also enjoy doing Zumba and playing Uno together.

“We do have a very great relationship,” Eades said. “I love meeting with Alison.”

Eades’ mother, BeLawn McGowan, is grateful for all that Klein does.

“She’s just really become a family friend,” McGowan said. “She helps push London.” 

Student London Eades, left, and mentor Alison Klein, right, high-five during a May team-building exercise. (Courtesy of Jen Pastrone)

Aside from the fun and games, Klein has taken Eades to tour the Annapolis Police Department to explore her interest in law enforcement.

They have also practiced economics while back-to-school shopping and planned logistics while visiting museums.

Caitlin Tobies, volunteer manager at Seeds 4 Success, said Alison cultivates a love for learning.

“She is just wonderful,” Tobies said. “She’s the kind of volunteer that will really step up and really engage, not only with London but also with other students.”

Seeds 4 Success was founded in 2008 as the Eastport Girls Club. Seven women launched the venture with a $500 grant from the Eastport Civic Association.

Their original goal was to support girls from a public housing community with frequent gun violence. Girls consistently asked for homework help, so the group focused on tutoring and mentorship.

Boys were eventually welcomed to join. The name also changed to Seeds 4 Success, a nod to the organization’s four pillars: dream, learn, grow and share.

Seeds 4 Success said it prioritizes students experiencing poverty because they are more likely to witness violence and incarceration, drop out of high school and repeat the poverty cycle without intervention.

Executive Director Jen Pastrone creates programs to empower these at-risk students, but she wants the community to be involved in planning as well. Pastrone solicits feedback from family and student impact teams to give them a seat at the table.

“We want to hear from the community,” Pastrone said. “This is for them, not for us.” 

The Seeds 4 Success office is shown here in Eastport. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Seeds 4 Success was officially incorporated as a nonprofit in 2011. It has earned grants from the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis and the county executive.

There are now six staffers, including one bilingual employee who leads Spanish programs.

The team and its mentors work with 68 students, including a record number of elementary and high schoolers this year.

Enrollment grew by 63% during the 2022-2023 school year. This helped Seeds 4 Success deliver 1,253 hours of one-on-one mentorship in the last academic year.

The group also just added programs for pre-K students. Now, kids can join Seeds 4 Success at 4 years old and continue through high school and post-secondary life.

Seeds 4 Success said it has helped students make the honor roll for the first time and get inducted into the National Honor Society. Students have also joined the Bates Middle School performing and visual arts program, which integrates the arts into the curriculum.

As for Eades, she is maintaining her positive and driven attitude at the start of this school year.

“I want to have a better relationship with my teachers,” Eades said. “I had certain teachers that we were close, but I want to kind of have that with most of my teachers.” 

London Eades is pictured above in front of a mural outlining the four pillars of Seeds 4 Success: dream, learn, grow and share. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Any student who lives in the City of Annapolis and receives free or reduced-price school meals can enroll in Seeds 4 Success. 

Seeds 4 Success is recruiting new mentors to meet the rising demand. Donations are also helpful.

The nonprofit is soon hosting a fundraiser called Cocktails for a Cause. The event is scheduled for Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Blue Heron Room of Quiet Waters Park. Tickets cost $50, and they’re available here. Sponsorships are still available at this link.

Visit for more information on enrolling, volunteering or donating. The nonprofit is headquartered in the Eastport Shopping Center at 921-B Chesapeake Ave. 

“Programs like Seeds 4 Success bring people together across divisions,” Klein said. “It broadens all of our horizons.”

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