What would Say Yes to Education mean for Cleveland?

Say Yes to Education would be a game changer for Cleveland – not only because of the last-in tuition-dollar scholarships to address college access and affordability, but the comprehensive approach to ensure students and their families begin college-readiness starting in pre-K with the necessary academic and non-academic support services.

Why is Cleveland being considered?

Cleveland is 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 non-profit sector committed to enhancing the lives of all Greater Clevelanders.

When will Cleveland know if it is an official Say Yes city?

We expect the work to take an additional 12 to 18 months to prepare Cleveland for formal consideration by the Say Yes to Education staff and board.

We want to make sure to be deliberate and thoughtful throughout this process to ensure we are well prepared for final consideration by Say Yes to Education – and be ready to launch immediately once all milestones have been achieved.

What needs to happen next?

To officially become a Say Yes city we must raise a significant portion of the scholarship endowment, and have signed agreements between public entities and Say Yes, signed data-sharing agreements, completed a broad range of analytics (e.g., post-secondary planning, inventory mapping, fiscal) and an agreed-upon roll-out plan and governance structure.

Our three public sector entities, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and CMSD, will need to analyze current spending and agree to reallocate and braid their dollars to maximize their support for student-support services.

We need our local partners, as they are identified and committed to the process, to participate in the planning, to execute data-sharing agreements, and to sign memorandums of understanding to provide academic and non-academic support services from kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond.

We will need to set and achieve ambitious fundraising goals, but we know Greater Cleveland has a long history of philanthropic support and understands the importance of supporting our youth, creating a college-going culture and preparing our future workforce to ensure the economic vitality of our region.

How will the community be updated on the work and progress?

We will communicate milestones and other updates to the community, leveraging the grassroots networks of our partners and members of our various committees.

How can general public get involved?

We are eager to have everybody get involved. Soon, we’ll have an active website and social media channels where people can learn more about our community’s progress, sign up for updates, and offer financial support. We also encourage Greater Clevelanders who are passionate about supporting our youth to volunteer their time and talents to the existing work already underway to transform Cleveland schools.

How much money do you need to raise?

We know a significant amount will need to be raised for a long-term scholarship endowment. The total amount will depend on the parameters around scholarships. The Scholarship Advisory Committee is working on this now in collaboration with Say Yes, and the Fundraising Committee will be established in the near future. Importantly, we believe that Say Yes builds on Cleveland’s momentum coming off the RNC, the Cleveland Plan, PRE4CLE, downtown revitalization and more.

What is the scholarship criteria?

The Scholarship Advisory Committee is working to determine the criteria for scholarships. It will follow a last-in tuition-dollar model supported by Say Yes.

Who decides the scholarship criteria?

The Scholarship Advisory Committee includes representatives from City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, College Now, Cleveland Foundation, United Way, CMSD, Cleveland Teachers Union, parents, higher education institutions, faith-based and neighborhood groups.

Will charter school students be able to participate in Say Yes?

The Scholarship Advisory Committee members are actively evaluating the participation of charter schools, and will include its decision as part of the scholarship criteria.

Is the scholarship only for four-year colleges?

We recognize that a four-year college degree is not for everyone, but post-secondary education in some form is necessary for most. In fact, by the year 2020, 65 percent of available jobs in Ohio will require a post-secondary credential. Though the criteria have not been determined, the intention is to provide last-dollar-in scholarships for four-year, two-year, and industry-recognized credential schooling.

Does all the money need to be raised before Cleveland goes through a final evaluation for consideration in becoming a Say Yes city?

We will need to raise a significant portion of the money and will be working with Say Yes to Education to identify that benchmark. These will be long-term commitments to an endowment fund. The more money we raise, the more students we can send to college.

What happens to the existing wrap-around services in the schools?

United Way has partnered with CMSD to wrap social service support around students in 25 local schools. And we’ve had promising results from the lead agencies and site coordinators helping students at those locations.

If Cleveland becomes a Say Yes city, a strategy similar to wraparound will be implemented on a larger scale at every CMSD location with the added value of providing access to college scholarships and other post-secondary training. The wraparound program, as it is known today, would merge into Say Yes.

What is the first graduating class that will benefit from this?

The timing of the first high school graduating class depends on the progress Cleveland makes in securing an affiliation with Say Yes for Cleveland’s youth. However, we’re eager to make this possibility a reality as soon as feasible, once the dollars and governance systems are in place.

How will this impact work happening under the Cleveland Plan?

If selected, Say Yes will enhance the transformation already underway in the Cleveland Plan.

How will non-profits and service providers be impacted by this?

A key component of Say Yes is in-school and out-of-school support services for students that address the diverse challenges in order to be ready to succeed in college or other post-secondary training. While specifics are yet to be determined, our non-profit community will be vital to the success of our Say Yes effort.

What have you learned from other Say Yes communities?

As Say Yes has grown, it has learned and evolved the process for becoming a Say Yes affiliate community. Cleveland is reaping the benefits of those lessons learned, and delegations of Cleveland representatives continue to collaborate with Say Yes staff and current Say Yes communities to see the work first-hand.

That’s why we are spending the necessary time to obtain quality data before finalizing the scholarship criteria, which will determine the scholarship endowment total, and taking the time to raise a significant portion of the money in preparation for consideration by Say Yes.

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