Say Yes Buffalo Executive Director David Rust Honored by Child and Family Services Agency of Western New York


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For Say Yes National:                                             

Sonja Smash, [email protected]

w: 212 415 4590 c: 914 804 9436


For Say Yes Buffalo: Daphne Inman

[email protected]

Say Yes Buffalo Executive Director David Rust Honored

by Child and Family Services Agency of Western New York

NEW YORK, March 18 — Say Yes to Education, the national nonprofit organization that partners with communities around the goals of students not only graduating high school but doing so with the preparation and support to afford and attain a post-secondary education, extended its congratulations today to David Rust, the Executive Director of its chapter in Buffalo, New York, on his receipt of a local award acknowledging his “commitment to advocacy.”

Rust, who has been the Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo since its founding in 2012, received the William B. Hoyt Memorial Advocacy Award from Child and Family Services, a private, not-for-profit agency in Buffalo that has been seeking to foster safe and healthy environments for children and their families (including in their homes and schools) for more than 140 years. The organization, which is one of the oldest human service agencies in Western New York, is also among the largest in the nation.

In presenting the award to Rust, David Barrett, the chairman of the agency’s board of directors, described him as “an individual who has made a remarkable difference in the lives of youth in our city and throughout our community,” as well as a “demonstrated leader in driving social change.”

The Say Yes Buffalo partnership is a community-wide collaboration dedicated to strengthening the city’s public school system and increasing high school and post-secondary graduation rates.  Among its partners are the Buffalo Public School District, City of Buffalo, Erie County, Buffalo Teachers Federation, District Parent Coordinating Council and more than 100 other funders and community-based-organizations – a consortium made possible by the collaboration and generosity of individuals, families, businesses, institutions of higher education, and faith-based and other charitable organizations, as well as the national Say Yes to Education organization. More information on Say Yes Buffalo can be found at www.SayYesBuffalo.org.

Barrett noted in presenting the award to Rust that since the community partnership launched Say Yes Buffalo, the high school graduation rate in the Buffalo City Schools has increased by 13 percentage points, to 61 percent in 2015. Over that period, the Say Yes Buffalo partnership has raised more than $24 million for a local scholarship fund, and secured commitments for an additional $12 million. The fund is intended to make it possible for every qualifying graduate of the Buffalo City Schools to attend an in-state public college or university tuition-free, in perpetuity, regardless of family income. Say Yes Scholars also have access to the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which provide “last dollar” scholarships covering tuition and fees (after Federal and state aid have been applied) to admitted students who qualify based on annual family income.

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, the President of  Say Yes to Education, praised Rust for his “dynamic servant leadership and his steadfast belief in, and dedication to, all students and families in Buffalo.”  She also cited Rust’s “commitment to develop and be part of a unique collaboration in the city that drives not only educational attainment but also economic revitalization.”

The Say Yes Buffalo partnership provides students and their families with a range of academic and non-academic supports, beginning before kindergarten and continuing through graduation, intended to help them seize the opportunity of a college or other post-secondary education and succeed to graduation. 


Say Yes to Education was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who boldly promised 112 sixth graders at a Philadelphia public school that he would pay to send them to college if they graduated high school. In the years since, Say Yes has evolved into a national nonprofit that helps organize and galvanize entire communities around the goals of every public school student graduating high school prepared for a college or other post-secondary education – and with access to scholarships to make that education affordable. The organization works with nearly 140,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Most are in community wide chapters in the upstate New York cities of Syracuse (since 2008) and Buffalo (2012). More than 6,000 students have gone off to college with the support of Say Yes, most in the last three years. The organization announced the addition of its newest chapter, in Guilford County, North Carolina, which includes the cities of Greensboro and High Point, on Sept. 17, 2015. Say Yes, which has begun the search for the site of its fourth community wide chapter, has smaller chapters in Harlem and Philadelphia. For more information: http://www.sayyestoeducationorg.insessionsite.com




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