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Statement from Say Yes to Education on Cleveland’s Bid To Become a Say Yes Citywide Chapter

Statement from Say Yes

NEW YORK, NY, May 17 — Say Yes to Education, a leading national nonprofit organization that partners with communities around the goals of college readiness and affordability, announced today that a consortium of public and private groups in Cleveland has satisfied some of the earliest milestones on the extensive path to potentially becoming a Say Yes chapter.

The consortium from Cleveland has submitted a proposal to become a communitywide affiliate of Say Yes to Education, as part of a process to reach qualification. That process is expected to extend into 2018. Among the significant steps the Cleveland applicants have already taken is to participate in extensive vetting by a panel of Say Yes advisors, much of it conducted on site in the city, and to begin to constitute planning groups and task forces related to key aspects of the Say Yes strategy.

Founded in 1987, Say Yes partners with public and private entities across cities and other municipalities to prepare students in public schools for success in college or other postsecondary institutions, with access to resources to help make that education more affordable. More than 130,000 students nationally have access to scholarships or other services from Say Yes, and more than 10,000 students have gone off to college with support from the organization.

The applicants from Cleveland are making good, early progress in their bid to become a Say Yes city – and the Say Yes organization said it looks forward to continuing its exploratory conversations in the next few critical months.

“It’s clear to the senior leadership of Say Yes that Cleveland is a community with a fierce desire to give its young people access to higher education, armed with the support to succeed in obtaining a college degree or other postsecondary credential,’’ said Eugene Chasin, the Chief Operating Officer of Say Yes. “That is a strong base on which to build. We look forward to continuing to discuss with the community partners the elements that Say Yes considers essential to the adoption of its strategy across the city, at scale and on a sustainable basis.”

One early hurdle that the Cleveland organizations have cleared is represented by the commitment made by local stakeholders – including representatives from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Foundation, United Way of Greater Cleveland and College Now Greater Cleveland – to explore the creation of a scholarship fund to which students in Cleveland would have access, based on their residency and other eligibility requirements.

In the coming months, Say Yes plans to work with the community groups in Cleveland to determine the appropriate size of the fund to provide “last dollar” tuition scholarships to qualifying students admitted to an in-state public college or university for the foreseeable future. The partners, in turn, would commit to raise a significant portion of that fund as part of the approval process.

Say Yes and the Cleveland groups must also reach agreement on memorandums of understanding that detail commitments that the local partners would make to share data and to provide students with academic and non-academic support services, both in-school and out-of-school, beginning before kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade and beyond.

If Say Yes ultimately approves Cleveland’s application, the organization would commit to invest $15 million in the community over six years, as various milestones are achieved. Those funds are not intended to be used to pay for scholarships. Rather, they would help to finance the scaffolding of a communitywide governance structure to manage the local Say Yes partnership and to seed student and family supports that, in other Say Yes communities, have included school-based social work; mental and physical health; legal services; college and career counseling; tutoring, and robust after-school and summer enrichment programs.

Graduates of partner high schools in Say Yes communities also have access to income-based scholarships from the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which includes the eight members of the Ivy League, as well as Duke, MIT, Northwestern, the University of Notre Dame and Stanford.

About Say Yes to Education

Say Yes to Education partners with communities to boost postsecondary participation and success. At the heart of the Say Yes strategy is a powerful incentive for families and communities: the prospect of a college scholarship, whether to an in-state public institution or the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes National Higher Education Compact. Say Yes helps communities build sustainable systems and structures around the goal of all young people earning a college degree or other postsecondary credential. More than 130,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 have access to the organization’s support services and scholarships. Most are in communitywide chapters in Syracuse (a pilot that began in 2008) and Buffalo (2012), as well as Guilford County (Greensboro-High Point), North Carolina (2015). Say Yes, which has begun the search for its fourth community chapter, has smaller chapters in Harlem in New York City and Philadelphia.

For further information, contact:

Sonja Smash, Say Yes to Education

ssmash@sayyestoeducation.org, 212 415 4590

Contact Us

Are you inspired by the goals and approach of Say Yes? We invite you to reach out to the Say Yes National office or to a Say Yes chapter, to learn more about how you can get involved.