Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced today that the City of Buffalo will partner with “Say Yes” to Education, a national non-profit organization aimed at drastically increasing high school graduation and college attendance rates for inner-city youth. Senator Gillibrand wrote to “Say Yes” president, Anne Schmitt-Carey, earlier this month urging her to support the partnership.
“All our young people deserve quality education and the chance to go to college regardless of where they grow up or how much money they have,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I’ve seen firsthand that ‘Say Yes’ works and I know it would be an invaluable resource for Buffalo. The program not only encourages students to develop high academic expectations for themselves, but gives them the tools and support they need to meet those expectations so they can graduate from high school and excel in college.”
Buffalo Public School’s 2010 graduation rate of 47 percent is well below the New York State average of 73.4 percent. The “Say Yes” program would seek to radically improve this number and make college an achievable goal for children in the region living in poverty. The organization fosters collaboration between educators, elected officials, business leaders, and community members to provide comprehensive support for students beginning in elementary school, ultimately promising full college or vocational education in New York State to any student who graduates from a public or charter high school. Along the way, the program provides services such as tutoring, health-clinics, mental health counseling, legal clinics for families and a host of other after-school and summer programs.
“Say Yes” opened its doors in Syracuse in the fall of 2008 and eventually became the largest school improvement program of its kind in the nation. Senator Gillibrand hosted a “Say Yes” roundtable at Syracuse University, and set up a meeting between the Mayor of Syracuse and members of the Department of Education. Last year, at the urging of Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies approved $500,000 for the expansion of the Syracuse “Say Yes” Program.