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Strengthening Our Local Economy

A Game-Changer for Western New York

Improving Education and


Western New York individuals, civic leaders, elected officials, businesses and foundations have come together in support of Say Yes Buffalo because they believe that Buffalos future is full of promise and on the verge of a renaissance. A renaissance, that is driven by embracing todays knowledge-based economy, fueled by youth that come up through an education system that has prepared them to become leaders in solving the worlds biggest challenges and spurring reinvestment in our community.

Say Yes Buffalo is an education-based initiative that provides a powerful engine for long-term economic development through radically improving the life course of public school students in the City of Buffalo. Say Yes Buffalo combines a comprehensive K-12 and postsecondary support system with the incentive of a locally funded, last-dollar* , postsecondary** Tuition Scholarship to remove the barriers (financial, academic, social and health) to college access and success for urban youth.

All students need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to be considered for scholarships. The free tuition is a last-dollar scholarship, which means that it provides financial support after other available scholarships such as TAP and Pell grants have been exhausted.  ostsecondary refers to vocational certificates and 2-year or 4-year P college degrees at eligible institutions.


A Vision for Our Future

1.  A generation of young people who are equipped to succeed in the 21st century workforce and remain dedicated to the region. 2. A  n urban public school district that provides an exceptional level of education to all students regardless of their socioeconomic status. 3. A  thriving city at the heart of a prosperous region, offering vibrant neighborhoods attractive to residents and families of all ages, races and ethnicities.

Investing in Education Will Build a Better Western New York Region

Western New Yorks future workforce is concentrated in the City of Buffalo, where 64% of residents are under the age of 45. However, only 22% of Buffalos population 25 years and older holds a bachelors degree or higher, a rate that is 10 percentage points lower than the rest of New York State and almost 6 percentage points lower than the U.S. (Figure 1). The long-term sustainable growth of a region is dependent upon the educational attainment of its workforce. Employers in high-wage and high-growth industries often seek out cities that offer a highly skilled and educated pool of potential employees. Compared to Cleveland, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (rust belt cities with similar populations), Buffalo ranks second to last in the percentage of its residents who have earned a bachelors degree or higher. As a result, Western New York employers increasingly report they have to hire from outside our region because the local workforce does not have the skills required for existing jobs. In addition to attracting business to a region, the increased educational attainment of a regions workforce translates into higher median earnings and lower unemployment rates, impacting not only the purchasing power of individuals but also the economic growth within the region (Figure 2).

Figure 1: E  ducational Attainment of Population 25 Years and Older

City Populations > 250k and < 400k
Minneapolis Pittsburgh Cincinnati Buffalo Cleveland NYS U.S. 20.0 13.4 32.3 28 40.0 60.0 43.6 34.5 31.5 22.1 87.8 89.2 84.0 81.3 76.3 84.6 85.3 80.0 100.0

Percent bachelor degree or higher Percent high school graduate or higher

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2010 American Community Survey

Figure 2: L  evel of Education Determines Earning Potential

2011 Unemployment Rates: 2011 Median Annual Earnings:

Doctorate $86,580 2.4% 2.5% Professional Degree $80,652 Masters $65,676 3.6% Bachelors $54,756 4.9% Associate $39,936 6.8% 8.7% Some College $37,338

9.4% 14.1%

$33,176 No HS Diploma $23,452

HS Diploma

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2011 Current Population Survey

The strength of the Western New York region is directly related to the strength of our hub city,

If we want a better Western New York we must create a better Buffalo.

How Say Yes Buffalo Works

Through the investment of private dollars from local partners, donors, and Say Yes to Education, Buffalo Public School District students and families benefit from comprehensive academic, financial, social/ emotional and health services support. This in turn increases postsecondary degree attainment rates, producing a local workforce trained for the jobs of the 21st century economy and positioned to improve our regions economic health. Say Yes Buffalo carries out its work on several fronts that affect young people and their families, because addressing each of these factors is critical for a student to attain a postsecondary degree. The locally funded Say Yes Buffalo Tuition Scholarship provides a powerful incentive to graduate high school and seek a postsecondary degree and helps remove financial barriers to those who wish to pursue higher education (including vocational, two- and four-year degrees at eligible institutions) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: T  he Say Yes Model

Scholarships & Grants College Prep & Financial Aid Workshops Student Management System

Free Legal Services (2015)

Review/ Support Core Instructional Programming

In-School Mental Health Clinics

After School/ Summer Enrichment

Tutoring Services

Professional Development for District Site Facilitators & Student/Family Social Services Supports

Systems Change Strengthens Public Schools and Aligns Community Supports

Growing postsecondary completion rates begins with increasing high school graduation rates. The implementation of Say Yes Buffalo provides the incentives and supportive services to prepare our children for high school and postsecondary success. Say Yes Buffalo provides the necessary resources to give students, parents, teachers and administrators the tools they need to improve the quality of our public schools. All efforts are created and implemented with transparency and guided by a collaborative governance team that meets bimonthly. School improvement efforts are directed toward providing a high-quality education for all Buffalo Public School students, instilling the educational motto of Excellence for All. The Say Yes Buffalo framework includes a multiyear fiscal strategy to transition the private financial support for comprehensive services funded by Say Yes to Education, Inc. into the operating budgets of the City, County, and School District. The partners meet regularly to analyze the comprehensive delivery of their programs and services and to efficiently allocate existing resources. As these systems evolve into a self-sustaining model, Say Yes to Education remains a critical source of patient capital and technical assistance to steward and facilitate the process.

Collaborative Governance: The Key to Sustainability

The breakthrough component of Say Yes Buffalo is the transparent, collaborative governance structure that guides all efforts and reports on progress to the public at large. This collaborative approach recognizes that Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Public School District all hold critical pieces of the puzzle, that the solutions reside between and among these systems, and that improving academic outcomes for urban youth with scale demands a cross-sector, cross-government approach. Key participants in this collaboration guiding Say Yes Buffalo include the Buffalo Public Schools, parents, the City of Buffalo, Erie County, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Buffalo Council of School Administrators, NYS Board of Regents, higher education, private-sector representatives, foundations, faith-based organizations and communitybased organizations.

Tuition Scholarship Increases Postsecondary Completion Rates and Stems Population Loss
The Buffalo Public School Districts 2012 four-year high school graduation rate of 47% trails both New York City (60%) and New York State (74%) (Figure 4). This is a crisis.

addition to increasing high school graduation rates for current students in the Buffalo Public Schools, the Tuition Scholarship also creates a powerful incentive for families with school-aged children to remain in or relocate into the city. This is significant, given that Buffalo continues to be plagued by population loss.

Figure 4: 2  012 High School Graduation A declining population further undermines the city that defines our region and Rates
results in declining property tax revenue, offering additional challenges in paying for infrastructure and services built for a city twice its current size. By reversing the population decline, Buffalo will be able to contribute to the economic health of the region, maintain public infrastructure/ services and provide a higher quality of life for its residents.

BPS 47%

NYC 60%

NYS 74%

Source: NYSED Graduation Rate Data, June 2012

Say Yes Buffalo answers this crisis by incentivizing high school graduation through the promise of privately funded tuition scholarships to attend an eligible postsecondary institution. As evidenced by similar programs in other cities, this scholarship serves as a powerful motivator for students to succeed in primary and secondary school with the ultimate goal of earning a postsecondary degree or certificate. The success of this approach is evident when considering Say Yes to Educations 25-year history of success in boosting high school and college graduation rates in underserved communities. More than 75% of all participating students in Say Yes chapters have graduated from high school and 50% achieved a postsecondary degree. In

Of all the supports of the Say Yes program, the tuition promise is perhaps the most critical motivating factor for students and families to persevere and continue on the path to graduation. In addition to being the north star for students seeking to pursue a college degree, it is a lever for city-wide turnaround and economic change. The benefit of free tuition influences a wide variety of measurable city-wide outcomes including housing values, attracting new business to the region, enrollment in the city school district and the rate of crime in our community.

Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Eligibility

Say Yes scholarships and grants are available to students who: 1. Reside in the city of Buffalo. 2. At minimum, complete grades 9-12, in consecutive years, at a public or charter school in the city of Buffalo. 3. Graduate from a public or charter school in Buffalo, beginning in June 2013. 4. Enroll full-time at a Say Yes college within one year of high school graduation (see for a list of partner colleges). 5. Apply for all federal and state financial aid programs (FAFSA and TAP).

Amount of Tuition Award: Last dollar (after state and federal grants and institutional aid are factored in) tuition guarantee. Extent of Benefits: The Say Yes Buffalo Tuition Scholarship is based on the number of years in attendance at public/charter schools in the city of Buffalo: K  12 (up to 100%), 312 (up to 95%), 612 (up to 80%), 912 (up to 65%), 1012 (none) More information at

Say Yes Buffalo Participating Postsecondary Institutions: Public

Students eligible for a Say Yes Buffalo Tuition Scholarship can apply those dollars at any of the SUNY or CUNY schools in New York State (with the exception of SUNY Statutory Colleges). A full list of SUNY and CUNY schools is below: Adirondack Community College University at Albany, State University of New York Alfred State College Baruch College Binghamton University State University of New York at Brockport Bronx Community College Brooklyn College Broome Community College University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Buffalo State College State University of New York at Canton Cayuga County Community College City College Clinton Community College State University of New York at Cobleskill Columbia-Greene Community College Corning Community College State University of New York at Cortland State University of New York at Delhi Dutchess Community College Empire State College  State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry Erie Community College State University of New York at Farmingdale Fashion Institute of Technology Finger Lakes Community College State University of New York at Fredonia Fulton-Montgomery Community College Genesee Community College State University of New York at Geneseo Herkimer County Community College Hostos Community College Hudson Valley Community College Hunter College Jamestown Community College Jefferson Community College John Jay College of Criminal Justice Kingsborough Community College LaGuardia Community College Lehman College Borough of Manhattan Community College State University of New York Maritime College Medgar Evers College Mohawk Valley Community College Monroe Community College State University of New York at Morrisville Nassau Community College State University of New York at New Paltz New York City College of Technology Niagara County Community College North Country Community College State University of New York at Old Westbury State University of New York at Oneonta Onondaga Community College Orange County Community College State University of New York at Oswego State University of New York at Plattsburgh State University of New York at Potsdam State University of New York at Purchase Queens College Queensborough Community College Rockland Community College Schenectady County Community College Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education College of Staten Island Stony Brook University Suffolk County Community College Sullivan County Community College State University of New York Institute of Technology Tompkins Cortland Community College Ulster County Community College Westchester Community College York College


Say Yes Buffalo Participating Postsecondary Institutions: Private

A group of private institutions are expanding the Say Yes Buffalo program through their commitment to the Say Yes Buffalo Private College Compact. Participating schools have agreed to waive any tuition above what is covered through Pell and TAP grants for those Say Yes Scholars that meet their admission criteria and have family income of $75,000 or less (with some exceptions-visit for more details). Students admitted to one of the participating private colleges with family income above $75,000, may receive a Say Yes Choice Grant (capped at $5,000), as long as the value of their total scholarships does not exceed the full cost of tuition. Additional details are available at Those schools that have committed to participate in the Say Yes Buffalo Private College Compact as of December 2013, include: Bryant & Stratton Canisius College+ Colgate University Columbia University Cooper Union Cornell University Crouse Hospital College of Nursing+ DYouville College+ Daemen College+ Dartmouth College Denison University Drexel University+ Duke University Georgetown University Hamilton College Harvard University Hilbert College+ Houghton College+ Kenyon College Lesley University+ Massachusetts Institute of Technology Medaille College Muhlenberg College New York University Niagara University+ Northwestern University Notre Dame University Paul Smiths College of the Adirondacks Pomona College Princeton University Rochester Institute of Technology+ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Rhodes College Rice University St. Bonaventure University+ St. Josephs College of Nursing+ Sewanee: The University of the South Smith College Syracuse University Trinity College Trocaire College+ University of Pennsylvania University of Rochester Vanderbilt University Vassar College Villa Maria College Washington University Williams College Yale University

For the most up-to-date list of participating institutions and to learn more about the different opportunities at each, please visit

These institutions are offering a limited number of scholarships per year. Not all students who are admitted to these schools are guaranteed a Say Yes Scholarship. These institutions may provide financial aid packages that cover more than just tuition costs, for example, room and board, and/or books. Please contact the institution for more details.


Say Yes Buffalo Opportunity and Choice Grants Opportunity Grants Choice Grants
Say Yes Buffalo has established a special opportunity grant program to assist highneed students enrolled and residing on campus at an eligible SUNY or CUNY college. These grants can be used toward additional college costs beyond tuition (up to $2,000 for those eligible for the maximum federal Pell Grant). Students eligible for a Say Yes Buffalo Tuition Scholarship meet the eligibility for an Opportunity Grant. The Opportunity Grant may not cover all expenses. Students with low income and high remaining need for financial aid assistance are automatically considered for the Opportunity Grant. Students from families whose income is more than $75,000 who are attending a private institution that is participating in the Say Yes Buffalo Private College Compact can apply for a Choice Grant. This grant offers up to $5,000 per year. Awards are determined by the difference between financial aid and the cost of full-time tuition. Choice Grants, when combined with state, federal, and institutional grants and scholarships, are not to exceed the cost of full-time tuition.



Say Yes is strengthening Buffalo:

Using a combination of the promise of postsecondary tuition, a collaborative school improvement effort, and the coordination and strengthening of community-based services, Say Yes in Buffalo has achieved compelling early results:

Year One Accomplishments:

The first class of Say Yes Buffalo Scholars totals 995 40 of 54 Buffalo Public Schools have an additional students now attending 39 colleges and universities staff member in place to connect students and with the support of more than $7 million in state families to community-based services as needed and federal aid and $930,000 in scholarships and (will be district-wide by 2015). grants funded by Western New York donors. 50% of Buffalo Public Schools will soon offer K-12 All 33,000 Buffalo Public School students are comprehensive quality after school programs free to enrolled in an electronic system that tracks families that include transportation (will be districtacademic, health and behavioral indicators to wide by 2015). monitor and proactively address challenges that Erie County has committed to transition mental arise at the student, class, building and district health clinics into all school buildings by 2015. levels.

Around the age of six, my world was shattered. This was the age I was left at my daycare too late for any of the employees to stay and watch me, making it obvious my mother wasnt coming. Then the suits, as I life to refer to them, came to take me to their office. And as you can tell, there is no father in this story. Months go by and Ive been moved from house to house, trapped in the foster care system, with only brief visits with my mother. I was forced to grow up fast for my own wellbeing. Being surrounded by strangers, I felt none of the love and affection a young child should receive. I didnt know what to do, how to feel. Throughout my childhood I hid the reality of my circumstances well from my family and friends, but inside there was only a dim dream of a college education that could obliterate the fears in my life. When I heard about the Say Yes scholarship opportunity, I knew it was my chance to succeed. For the first time in my life, I have hope for my future. Say Yes is greatly appreciated for assisting me with my future at Villa Maria College. I am a lucky young man. Ricardo*, College Freshman at Villa Maria College *name has been changed

How Say Yes Buffalo is Funded Scholarships: Locally funded

Western New York individuals, civic leaders, businesses, and foundations have committed to fund and fundraise to support the Say Yes scholarships and grants. The initial goal is to raise $30 million, ensuring the Tuition Scholarship for a minimum of 10 years, through 2023. The longer-term goal is to secure enough private support to endow the scholarship and provide it in perpetuity.

Strengthening Schools and Community Supports: Funded by Say Yes to Education, Inc., local and national partners
Costs related to the review and realignment of community support services and the districtwide school improvement efforts are covered by a $15 million commitment from Say Yes to Education, Inc. and Say Yes local and national partners. In the long term, the ongoing programmatic costs will be covered through the coordination and reallocation of public County, City and School District funds.

About Say Yes to Education, Inc.

Say Yes to Education, Inc. (Say Yes) is a national, nonprofit education foundation committed to dramatically increasing high school and college graduation rates for our nations urban youth. The Say Yes model provides comprehensive supports, including the promise of free college tuition, aligned with a coordinated system of comprehensive supports. Say Yes has worked with selected schools or groups of students in Philadelphia, Hartford, Cambridge and Harlem. Syracuse was the first city to receive the supports of Say Yes to Education across an entire school district. Buffalo is the second entire school district to benefit from collaboration with Say Yes.

Mission and Vision

The mission of Say Yes to Education is to value and realize the promise and extraordinary potential of economically disadvantaged youth and families. Say Yes recognizes the daunting challenges faced by children living in poverty, and believes children can overcome these challenges when given significant, holistic support. 14

How Can You Get Involved?

To ensure Say Yes Buffalo has a long-lasting effect, we need not only financial commitment, but also the time of dedicated community volunteers to help support programming. Say Yes Buffalo calls on volunteers throughout the community and throughout the school year for various activities and events, including after-school tutoring, mentoring and preparation for SAT college-entrance exams. To discuss a gift to support the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship, please contact Elizabeth Clune, Senior Vice President for Development at 716.247.5310 or For more information about Say Yes Buffalo programs, please contact David Rust, Executive Director for Say Yes Buffalo at (716) 247-5310 or


Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Board

Alphonso ONeil-White, Chair William L. Joyce, Vice Chair James H. Cummings Foundation Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, Secretary Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Stephen Swift, Treasurer BlueCross BlueShield of WNY

Nancy Davis Davis Family Foundation Danis J. Gehl, Ph.D. UB Educational Opportunity Center Robert D. Gioia The John R. Oishei Foundation Roger Hungerford Amgis Foundation Jeremy Jacobs Jr. Delaware North Companies Luke Jacobs Barrantys LLC Daniel Lewis Orange Capital LLC Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey Say Yes to Education, Inc.

Say Yes Buffalo | 712 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 |

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November 2013