Say Yes to Education seeks to ensure that the influences of family, school, and community are powerful and positive for Say Yes children. All Say Yes strategies seek to create a productive, directed life trajectory for its students, one that results in a post-secondary education and a lifetime of expanded possibilities.
Research shows that the primary obstacles to post-secondary access fall in to four categories: Academic Services, Health Services, Financial Services, and Social/Emotional Services. To address these obstacles, Say Yes offers, or partners with organizations to provide, services aimed at reducing the challenges students face in graduating from high school and college.
Many students arrive at elementary school academically behind and unable to meet behavioral and learning expectations of school.
Although students increasingly aspire to attend college, many think that their aspiration is unattainable, and that if they were to be admitted to college they would be unable to succeed there.
In an effort to change this mindset and inspire confidence in young people, Say Yes provides supports to students throughout their academic career, including:
- Early Academic Intervention: Diagnostic assessment of Say Yes students’ strengths and weaknesses to enable delivery of appropriate supports and services
- Tutoring: Early literacy supports and “Power Hour” tutoring for students most at risk of not advancing to the next grade level
- Extended Day/Year Programming: After-school and summer programs that include academic support, cultural and recreational activities, and career exploration
- Professional Development: Professional growth opportunities in literacy, teaching of writing and math, and young adolescent development
- School Leadership: Say Yes involvement in school decision-making, including Say Yes staff participation on school councils and leadership teams, and in Individual Education Plan meetings for students
- Mentoring: Mentoring is available to students in all Say Yes chapters
- College Admissions Assistance: Say Yes Counselors are available to assist students and families in the college application process, including selecting and applying for postsecondary education and filling out financial aid forms
Students and families often lack access to adequate health care, which leads to undiagnosed and sometimes untreated physical and mental health problems that in turn may cause school absence and poor performance relative to ability.
- Healthcare: Structured partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers offer physical and mental health services
- Dental Care: In addition to physical and mental health services, partnerships with healthcare providers allow Say Yes to offer dental care to students
Parents and students sometimes lack the means to invest in educational supports such as tutoring and extended day programming. College is often beyond many parents’ financial resources, and parents’ work schedules are often inflexible, providing little opportunity for them to become involved with school meetings and events. Financial stress also may cause family instability such as frequent moves, and/or children living temporarily with relatives, all of which can lead to poor school attendance and performance.
- Scholarships: Say Yes provides scholarships for two-year, four-year, and vocational institutes to its high school graduates
- Family Assistance: In some chapters, Say Yes also provides parent and sibling financial assistance at two-year, four-year, or vocational institutes (siblings must be under 25, still live at home, and be biologically related to Say Yes students)
- Family Outreach: Many of the Say Yes family services specialists are licensed social workers. Through regular home visits and meetings, these specialists form trusting, collaborative relationships with Say Yes families
- Counseling: Counselors address social marginalization and alienation at college, and provide access to a support group of pro-social peers
- Legal Assistance: Free legal services and referrals are also available to help Say Yes students and families with legal issues that may interfere with their child’s ability to succeed in school