avatar for Rajiv Vinnakota

Rajiv Vinnakota

The SEED Foundation
Co-Founder and CEO
Raj grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His parents, who had immigrated from India, were devoted to Raj receiving a quality education, and instilled in him their belief that a good education was the way up and out of poverty. Raj attended Princeton University, from which he received a B.S. in Molecular Biology, as well as certificate of studies from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy. Raj’s first job after college was as a management consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. However, Raj’s training as a scientist continued to shape his world view. After a conversation with friends about the challenges of educating urban, at-risk students, Raj developed a scientific hypothesis: that underserved children, when provided with a 24-hour, supportive, academically-rigorous environment, could achieve scholastic success. Soon after, Raj met a management consultant from a competing company, Eric Adler, who also had visions of a college preparatory boarding school for urban youth. Together, they founded The SEED Foundation and opened the first-ever SEED School in Washington, D.C. in 1998. In addition to his role at The SEED Foundation, Raj is a board director for a public company, Colfax Corporation (NYSE: CFX) and serves on the national advisory committee for the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. He is also a former trustee and executive committee member for Princeton University. Raj is the former national chair for Annual Giving at Princeton and served on the executive committee of the Aspire capital campaign for Princeton. Raj is an Echoing Green fellow and an Ashoka fellow. For his work at The SEED Foundation, Raj has been named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine, has received the Manhattan Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Award and has received an Oprah Winfrey “Use Your Life” Award. Raj was named the 2009 winner of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, the highest honor that Princeton bestows on an undergraduate alumnus. He is married and has one daughter and two cats. He loves basketball, pro football, working out and learning from his daughter.