United Way part of exploratory group to bring “Say Yes to Cleveland”

United Way of Greater Cleveland is proud to be part of the exploratory group working to bring Say Yes to Cleveland.

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C)The 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.

Partners from the public, philanthropic, nonprofit and private sectors are working together over the next 12 to 18 months on the complexities required for consideration by Say Yes.

We’re also glad for the ongoing support and encouragement from the Say Yes team. As Say Yes Chief Operating Officer Eugene Chasin says, “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.”

“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,” said United Way of Greater Cleveland President and CEO August Napoli. “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.”

In the coming months, our work includes:

  • Determining the parameters and criteria to provide last-dollar tuition scholarships to qualifying students admitted to an in-state public college or university
  • Establishing a local fundraising committee and raising a significant portion of the scholarship fund as part of the approval process
  • Identifying the 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

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.

United Way is a member of the Cleveland exploratory group along with City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland Foundation and College Now of Greater Cleveland.

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