The Say Yes Strategy
While the concrete goals that drive Say Yes’ work focus on postsecondary access and success, the Say Yes strategy offers a uniquely nuanced and comprehensive approach to redesigning the civic infrastructure around urban public education.
What makes the Say Yes strategy so distinctive is the way it brings together three key and mutually supportive components:
- A scholarship incentive: Through a local scholarship endowment and partnerships with over 90 private colleges and universities, every graduate of the public school system has access to game-changing postsecondary tuition supports. These scholarships act as a catalyst for community collaboration, and the raising of student and family aspirations for postsecondary success.
- A Collaborative Governance structure and process: Say Yessupports the realignment of systems and establishes a sustainable civic infrastructure to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services tailored to student needs. Through the creation of four community-wide collaborative bodies, the Say Yes strategy ensures wide cross-sector involvement in everything from the day-to-day management of program implementation, to quarterly public accountability forums, to administration of the scholarship.
- A Pathway to Postsecondary Education and Career: By working with the community to set benchmarks and by systematically providing holistic supports along the full pathway from Pre-K to postsecondary completion, the Say Yes partnership ensures that students have the experiences, competencies, and skills they need at each stage of life to ensure postsecondary success. Specifically, based on extensive research on the predictable barriers to student success, Say Yes is committed to providing access to not only academic supports, but also social/emotional, and physical health services to students and their families.
When Say Yes enters a new city, it not only offers a comprehensive strategy and technical support (including fiscal audits and expert consulting support), but also a $15 million initial investment designed to leverage the reallocation of public dollars for student supports in sustainable ways. By putting this investment on the table, Say Yes helps incentivize active collaboration among government, private sector, and public sector leaders in order to identify and organize city assets around the same goal of postsecondary completion for the city’s youth.
Through Say Yes’ efforts to build a sustainable collaborative governance structure—one that brings together representatives from the school district, city and county governments, local philanthropy and business, teachers’ and administrators’ unions, community based service providers, parents, and other community leaders–Say Yes helps foster a community-wide sense of commitment and responsibility to the success of the public school district.
Through a focus on strengths, communal investment, and shared accountability, Say Yes aims to create a sea-change in the culture of expectation and hope around public education at the city level, and to ultimately create a vibrant college going culture throughout whole school districts.