Congratulations to Say Yes Education and Guilford County, NC!

Posted by Maica Pichler on September 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Join us in saying Congratulations to Say Yes Education on their newest partner community, Guilford County (NC)!  With this exciting announcement, Say Yes to Education has successfully launched three community-wide Chapters by bringing together diverse groups of corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations in their respective communities. Guilford County joins as the biggest partner yet with a 72,000 student school-system, bigger than that of San Francisco or Boston.

Say Yes was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss, who promised to prepare 112 Philadelphia sixth graders for college, and to pay their college tuition if they graduated high school. Since then, the non-profit has grown tremendously in its effort to improve inner-city education and higher education success for some of those most marginalized. While they engage in various strategies to do so, including tutoring and mentorship in K–12 schools, the principal catalyst of their initiatives are their locally funded Say Yes Tuition Scholarships. The Say Yes Tuition Scholarships are last-dollar scholarships that  guarantee full-tuition scholarships for all eligible high school graduates to any of nearly 100 partner colleges and universities.

The two older initiatives in Syracuse and Buffalo, New York are already helping thousands of students receive a postsecondary education and pushing many more to aim for college. Say Yes Syracuse covers the remaining cost of tuition (not met from Pell, HOPE, or TSAA) at any SUNY or CUNY institution for all recent high-school graduates who have been continuously enrolled in Syracuse County School District for at least three years. Similarly, Say Yes Buffalo covers the remaining cost of tuition for all recent high school graduates who have been enrolled in any Buffalo public or charter school since kindergarten. Students enrolled since 9th grade may receive a scholarship covering 65 percent of the cost. Those who enter the system at some point in between receive a scholarship based on a sliding scale. Both initiatives also offer tuition scholarships for private institutions at more than 100 partner colleges or universities. Full tuition scholarships for private institutions are available to qualified students whose family income is under $75,000 a year while $5,000 grants are available for qualified students whose family income is higher than $75,000 a year.

Say Yes Syracuse has quickly taken important steps in increasing postsecondary success. It has helped nearly 2,000 students enroll in two- and four-year colleges since the fall of 2009 while reducing high school dropout rates and improving college readiness. Say Yes Buffalo was implement in 2011 and is still a relatively new program, though tentative results suggest that it will also be successful. Attendance rates have slowly increased in the public school system while drop-out rates appear to be decreasing since the implementation of the program.

In Guilford County, as the biggest Say Yes Partner Community yet, the possibilities of success are even greater. Positive results here may help push forward free college tuition programs in major cities across the United States. Say Yes’ focus on collaboration from teachers unions to private corporations helps them create sustainable community programs.  The unity created by Say Yes – and other visionaries in the free college tuition movement – helps communities find funding sources, implement the programs, and maintain them when challenges arise.

CFCT looks forward to celebrating the success of Say Yes Guilford County scholars!

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The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.