Cleveland Takes Next Steps to Be Considered for Say Yes to Education

RELEASE DATE: 5.17.2017

CLEVELAND – Say Yes to Education, a leading national nonprofit organization that partners with communities around the goals of college readiness and affordability, announced today that Cleveland has satisfied some of the earliest milestones on the extensive path to becoming a Say Yes chapter.

CMSD StudentsThe bold promise of Say Yes is to bring together an entire community to ensure each of its children has the opportunity –and the support – to go to college. Using last-in-dollar scholarships as a catalyst, Say Yes partners with communities to create systems intended to help every child progress along the pathway to post-secondary success.

For more than two years, an exploratory group in Cleveland has been working to secure an affiliation with Say Yes for Cleveland’s youth. Six partners – City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Foundation, College Now and United Way – are leading the effort. These partners are seeking to make the case that Cleveland would be a good fit for the Say Yes approach, leveraging the ongoing success of the Cleveland Plan, the region’s strong history of collaboration as demonstrated by innovative and committed public sector leaders, and an organized and robust philanthropic and nonprofit sector committed to enhancing the lives of all Greater Clevelanders.

Already, the public-private partnership that submitted the application has participated in extensive vetting, including on-site visits in Cleveland, by Say Yes’ senior management and advisory board.

The Cleveland group, along with others, will now spend the next 12 to 18 months working with Say Yes to determine the feasibility and possibility of Cleveland becoming a communitywide affiliate. This work includes, but is not limited to, determining scholarship parameters and criteria, raising a significant portion of the funding required to support the scholarship endowment, and identifying necessary in-school and out-of-school supports and services and related public and philanthropic funding sources to meet the development needs of every child.

This next phase will require input and work from all aspects of the community – parents, children, teachers, school administrators, social-service organizations, businesses, government officials, residents, and more. Cleveland’s potential selection as a Say Yes partner community would enhance the work already being done to improve all the factors that influence Cleveland children’s academic success and to ensure they are ready for college or career.

Leaders of the exploratory group partners share their thoughts on what Say Yes could mean for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County if ultimately designated as a Say Yes city:

City of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

“If selected as a Say Yes city, we can create an opportunity for Cleveland students, regardless of economic circumstance, to go to college. Say Yes would help support their growth and aid in high-quality educational opportunities for those who traditionally would not have access. This is an excellent example of community partnerships contributing to equitable prosperity for all Clevelanders.”

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish

“If Say Yes does come to Cleveland, the program will help to deliver on our vision where we live in a region that is vibrant and prosperous, where everyone thrives and all things are possible. The Say Yes opportunity supports our goal of making sure that every student stays in school and has the support needed to graduate high school ready for postsecondary completion and career success.”

Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon

“Under the Cleveland Plan, CMSD is graduating more students, and students who are better prepared for college; however, the number of Cleveland students enrolling in postsecondary education is declining. If we succeed in being selected, Say Yes can help Cleveland reverse that trend through scholarship access and support services students need from kindergarten through 12th grade. The potential of Say Yes provides hope and opportunity for the people of Cleveland to play a significant role in the revitalization of the city and the region.”

Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronn Richard

“We see tremendous value in Say Yes as a comprehensive program that has the potential to lift generations of students and families out of poverty and instill a new era of hope and prosperity in our community. The potential of a college scholarship is a key incentive, but the holistic and individualized care for our students from K-12 will cause a seismic opportunity shift in Greater Cleveland if we are selected as a Say Yes community.”

College Now Greater Cleveland CEO Lee Friedman

“Say Yes would be a game-changer for many of the students we serve, freeing them from much of the worry about how their families will finance the gap between the cost of postsecondary education and what they can afford to pay for it. Additionally, the wraparound services that Say Yes would provide for students will allow them to focus more on academics and give them the tools they need to persist to high school and postsecondary completion.”

United Way of Greater Cleveland President and CEO August Napoli

“At United Way, we know it takes a village to ensure our community’s kids have everything they need to succeed academically and ultimately pursue higher education. If Cleveland is successful in becoming a partner community with Say Yes, we are excited about the opportunity to wrap holistic services – everything from tutoring to health care – to elementary, middle and high school students. Say Yes is an innovative strategy that will create new excitement about education in our community.”