Keybank Announces $1 Million Gift to Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Fund

Press Release


Local commitments now total more than $25 million to provide postsecondary scholarships to students who graduate from Buffalo public and charter schools

BUFFALO, NY, MAY 11, 2016 – Today, KeyBank executives announced their continued support for the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Fund with a new $1 million grant from the KeyBank Foundation.  Prior to this, KeyBank Foundation had invested $150,000 in the Scholarship Fund.

When added to previous commitments from Western New York individuals, families, foundations, organizations and businesses, this gift brings to more than $25 million the total amount that has been pledged to provide postsecondary tuition scholarships for graduates of Buffalo public and charter schools.

In making the gift, Beth Mooney, KeyCorp Chairman and CEO, cited Key’s commitment to helping communities thrive. “For 190 years, Key has been part of the fabric of New York. Our partnership with Say Yes Buffalo will help ensure the children of Western New York will not only thrive, but continue to reinvest in the success of their community.”

The leading predictor of economic health for a region is the level of education of its residents.  Buffalo is consistently ranked among the poorest cities in the United States, but has shown increases in high school graduation and college matriculation rates since the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship was announced in 2012.  Since then, Buffalo public high school graduation rates have increased by 12 percentage points from 49% in 2012 to 61% in 2015.  College matriculation rates have also increased from 57% in 2012 to 67% in 2015.

”We are enormously grateful to KeyBank for this gift which is not only significant in size but also significant in what it says about the company’s belief in the Say Yes Buffalo partnership,” said Alphonso O’Neil-White, Chair of the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Board.  “KeyBank made its first gift to our fund in 2012 – that they have come back to the table to not only make another commitment but to increase it to $1 million says a lot about their faith in our approach toward strengthening the regional economy by investing in Buffalo’s public school students.”

The Say Yes Buffalo Partnership is an education-based initiative that provides a powerful engine for long-term economic development, which will radically improve the life course of public school students in the City of Buffalo.

Catalyzed by a locally funded scholarship program and bolstered by a successful national model that includes support for district-wide school improvements and alignment of community and public support services, Say Yes Buffalo aims to increase educational attainment of the students in the Buffalo Public Schools.  To accomplish this, Say Yes Buffalo partners collectively address financial, academic, health, and social/emotional barriers to educational attainment to ensure all students have the tools to successfully earn a postsecondary degree. Services and supports that Say Yes and its partners currently facilitate directly in Buffalo’s public school buildings include social services, mental health clinics, legal clinics, a mentoring program to help graduating high school seniors make a successful transition to college and a summer program for grades K-6 aimed at preventing summer-learning-loss.

For more information about KeyBank’s Corporate Responsibly Efforts, visit www.key.com/about/community/community-is-key.jsp. For more information about Say Yes Buffalo visit www.sayyesbuffalo.org.

About The Say Yes Buffalo Partnership

Launched in 2012, the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is a community collaboration dedicated to strengthening the city’s public school system and increasing high school and postsecondary graduation rates.  Comprised of the Buffalo Public School District, City of Buffalo, Erie County, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the District Parent Coordinating Council and more than one-hundred other funders and community-based-organizations is made possible by the collaboration and generosity of Western New York individuals, families, businesses and organizations and Say Yes to Education. More information at www.SayYesBuffalo.org.


About the Say Yes National organization

Founded in 1987, Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit that partners with communities around the goals of every public school student not only graduating high school – but doing so prepared for a college or other postsecondary education, and with access to resources to make that education affordable. At the heart of Say Yes is a powerful incentive for families and communities: the prospect of a college scholarship, whether to an in-state public institution or one of the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes National Higher Education Compact. Say Yes and its partners ensure that students have the support outside the classroom – tutoring; after-school and summer programs; medical care; counseling and legal help – to clear the path to academic achievement. Say Yes works with its community partners to bring together every local stakeholder – city and county government; the school district; parents; teachers; businesses; unions; philanthropic and faith-based organizations; colleges and universities – and arms that coalition with the tools to boost postsecondary participation and success. Those systems and structures enable the work of the local Say Yes partnership to go to scale and be sustained through predictable transitions in leadership, and historically unpredictable funding from state and local sources. The organization’s support services are available to nearly 140,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. 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 already begun the search for its fourth community chapter, has smaller chapters in Harlem in New York City and Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.SayYestoEducation.org



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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.