Say Yes Syracuse celebrates: Matt's Memo

Say Yes to Education

Syracuse found a prestigious way to celebrate five years of helping students go to college and succeed. The program announced it has added Harvard, Notre Dame, Duke, Northwestern and Georgetown to its growing list of partners in higher education.

These elite institutions signed on to offer full tuition to Say Yes scholars who have family incomes below $75,000 per year. Say Yes founder George Weiss says the program offers hope. Students taking advantage of the financial resources are often the first in their families to attend college.

There was more good news from Say Yes beyond the glossy headline of the addition of Harvard and the rest. New data shows a 33 percent increase in the number of Syracuse students attending college since the program began in 2008. Not only are more students attending college, but they are also staying in college at a rate far higher than the national average.

Say Yes has also contributed to the district with after-school and summer academic enrichment programs.

Say Yes is not making a difference in a vacuum. There are other key programs in Syracuse operating outside the traditional school day that are part of this growing reason for optimism.

The Hillside Work Scholarship program provies intensive mentoring to students who are likely to drop out of high school. The attention to basics like attendance and homework has turned hundreds of students from potential drops outs into graduates attending college.

OnPoint for College is filling another need for students who may be getting free tuition, but cannot afford books, transportation or room and board at college.

Students and parents should take note. This is a good time to be a student in Syracuse when it comes to education and doors opening that were closed for too long.

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