Say Yes to Education Buffalo, which raised more than $18 million from the local philanthropic community, seeks to change the culture of K-12 education in Buffalo, leading to higher graduation rates and more young men and women attending college.
The Buffalo version of Say Yes subsidizes tuition for state and some private colleges on a scale depending on how long students have attended city schools.
But the program is more involved than simply dangling a college carrot in front of city children and teenagers. It includes an intensive system of data that will track student progress through the years and tailor measures to help them. It includes a more cohesive system of after-school and summer programs to keep them mentally and physically active and out of trouble.
And it includes boots on the ground, with a “site facilitator” in each public and charter school to navigate issues and challenges.
“They’ll have academic but also developmental support,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president/CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, which is working with the John R. Oishei Foundation on fundraising. “They will develop a program designed around the needs and interests of the kids in that building.”