We applaud Governor Cuomo for his vision and for his recognition of the extraordinary value of setting the ambitious goal of postsecondary degree completion for every child in New York State.
We also congratulate the Say Yes Buffalo partnership – as well as the local partners of Say Yes Syracuse – who were cited by the Governor for their magnificent efforts to provide academic and non-academic support and enrichment services to all children in their communities.
In Buffalo, the collaborative efforts of the local Say Yes partnership – including the city, school district, organized labor, parents, faith leaders, local businesses, the philanthropic community and institutions of higher education – have contributed to demonstrable gains over the last five years, including a 14-point increase in the high school graduation rate (to 63 percent) and a 10-point increase in the number of those students going on to college or other postsecondary programs (to 67 percent).
Implicit in the Governor’s college tuition proposal is an idea that Say Yes and its partners have advanced for decades: providing college tuition alone is not sufficient to ensure more students are able to earn a college or other postsecondary degree.
As the Governor said: “Say Yes to Education is continuing to prepare students for the transition from high school to higher education, securing the workforce pipeline in Western New York.”
In our experience, scholarships must be coupled with access to academic and non-academic support services, from before kindergarten through postsecondary degree completion, to ensure students achieve critical milestones on the pathway to postsecondary success.
We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and other state leaders and to sharing lessons we have learned with local communities that seek to organize around the transformational goal of getting all children to and through college (or other meaningful degree programs). Ultimately we seek to work together to rebuild the fabric of individual communities across New York State and to begin to realize the true potential of all of New York’s citizenry.