Emily Nugent ’13 was recently quoted in an article in the Post Standard about Syracuse, N.Y.’s “Say Yes to Education” program. Nugent is one of about 1,000 students from Syracuse attending college with funding from Say Yes scholarships.
Through the Say Yes program, any student who completes their sophomore through senior years at a Syracuse city high school will receive a tuition scholarship to a participating college.
Nugent is quoted “Say Yes has given me an educational experience that would have been financially impossible.”
The full article follows.
SRC Says Yes to City Schools
James T. Mulder • staff writer • January 23, 2011
SRC Inc., the Cicero company formerly known as Syracuse Research Corp., is donating $5 million to a program that provides free college tuition to Syracuse City School District graduates.
SRC’s gift to Say Yes to Education Syracuse was announced Saturday at a reception at the CNY Philanthropic Center in downtown Syracuse. The donation is a matching gift designed to encourage other companies to give to the Say Yes program.
“We are committed to providing an opportunity for the youth of Syracuse to pursue their academic careers, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Bob Behler, SRC’s president and CEO. “Those are the kind of people I need and the nation needs.”
The SRC gift supports Say Yes Syracuse’s new fundraising campaign. As part of that effort, all new donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $2 million, by the Central New York Community Foundation and Say Yes. The nonprofit has raised $8 million so far.
Syracuse University is one of the Say Yes program’s key partners. SU encouraged people watching Saturday’s men’s basketball game in the Dome and fans watching on TV from home to donate $10 to Say Yes by texting “COLLEGE” to 27722. Text donations during the game totaled $277,000.
Say Yes was founded by philanthropist George Weiss, president of an investment firm in Hartford, Conn. He started the nonprofit in 1987 when he promised 112 seventh-graders in a Philadelphia public school he would pay their college tuition if they stayed in school and graduated. Since then, Say Yes has expanded to Hartford, Cambridge, Mass., and New York City. The program came to Syracuse three years ago. Syracuse is the first city to roll out the program district wide.
“This should be a model for the rest of the country,” said Weiss, who was in Syracuse for the reception.
Weiss recalled meeting a young woman several years ago who was the salutatorian of her high school graduating class in Hartford. She could not go to college because she did not have $1,000. “What a shame,” Weiss said. “Why get good grades if there is nothing at the end of the tunnel for you? This will not happen to the children of Syracuse.”
To recognize Syracuse is the first community in the nation ensuring all public school students can afford college, the city plans to install more than 30 signs around the city that say Syracuse is a “Say Yes to Education City.” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner unveiled one of the signs at the reception.
About 1,000 students from Syracuse are attending college on Say Yes scholarships. They can choose from 100 colleges throughout the state.
Emily Nugent, a 2009 graduate of Henninger High School, is attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges on a Say Yes scholarship. “Say Yes has given me an educational experience that would have been financially impossible,” Nugent said.
Gregory White, a 2009 Nottingham High School grad, is attending SU on a Say Yes scholarship. White said he didn’t know if he would have been able to afford college. “I do not know where I would be without this program,” he said.
SU has 68 students on Say Yes scholarships.
SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor said SRC’s $5 million gift will convince skeptics in the community that Say Yes “is for real.”
Say Yes does a lot more than offer scholarships. It provides after-school and summer-camp programs, tutoring, mentoring, family outreach, counseling and referrals for health care and legal assistance. One of the program’s main goals is to increase the city’s 45.3 percent graduation rate.
The $5 million donation from SRC comes at a time when the city school district is working to close a $47 million budget deficit and planning to close two schools. “Our future as a school district and as a city is the Say Yes theory of action,” said Dan Lowengard, city schools superintendent.
How Say Yes works:
If a Say Yes-eligible student enrolled at a Say Yes-eligible college does not receive the cost of tuition from state, federal and institutional grants and scholarships, Say Yes will provide a grant for the remaining tuition balance.
Eligible students must be city residents and have continuous enrollment in a city school district high school for three years — 10th, 11th and 12th grades, graduate after June 2009 and enroll in college within one academic year after graduation.
There are almost 100 eligible colleges, including most of the SUNY and CUNY colleges, and more than 20 private colleges. A complete list of participating schools can be found online at sayyesSyracuse.org.
How to help:
To donate $10 to Say Yes, text “COLLEGE” to 27722 on your cell phone. After sending the text you will receive a prompt, asking if you wish to proceed with the donation or cancel. You can also donate online at cnycf.org. All donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the Central New York Community Foundation and Say Yes.
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