(CLEVELAND) - Cleveland Public School students may soon be eligible for scholarships to public, or select private colleges and universities if a partnership with a New York-based non-profit is cemented over the next 12 to 18 months. "Say Yes to Education" announced today that a consortium of public and private groups in Cleveland has satisfied some of the earliest milestones on the path to becoming a Say Yes chapter.
The consortium from Cleveland has submitted a proposal to become a community-wide affiliate of Say Yes to Education, as part of a process to reach qualification. That process is expected to extend into 2018. Among the significant steps the Cleveland applicants have already taken is to participate in extensive vetting by a panel of Say Yes advisers, much of it conducted on site in the city, and to begin to constitute planning groups and task forces related to key aspects of the Say Yes strategy.
More than 130,000 students nationally have access to scholarships or other services from Say Yes, and more than 10,000 students have gone off to college with support from the organization.
“It’s clear to the senior leadership of Say Yes that Cleveland is a community with a fierce desire to give its young people access to higher education, armed with the support to succeed in obtaining a college degree or other post secondary credential,’’ said Eugene Chasin, the Chief Operating Officer of Say Yes. “That is a strong base on which to build. We look forward to continuing to discuss with the community partners the elements that Say Yes considers essential to the adoption of its strategy across the city, at scale and on a sustainable basis.”
One early hurdle that the Cleveland organizations have cleared is represented by the commitment made by local stakeholders – including representatives from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Foundation, United Way of Greater Cleveland and College Now Greater Cleveland – to explore the creation of a scholarship fund to which students in Cleveland would have access, based on their residency and other eligibility requirements.
In the coming months, Say Yes plans to work with the community groups in Cleveland to determine the appropriate size of the fund to provide “last dollar” tuition scholarships to qualifying students admitted to an in-state public college or university for the foreseeable future. The partners, in turn, would commit to raise a significant portion of that fund as part of the approval process.
Say Yes and the Cleveland groups must also reach agreement on memorandums of understanding that detail commitments that the local partners would make to share data and to provide students with academic and non-academic support services, both in-school and out-of-school, beginning before kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade and beyond.
If Say Yes ultimately approves Cleveland’s application, the organization would commit to invest $15 million in the community over six years, as various milestones are achieved. Those funds are not intended to be used to pay for scholarships. Rather, they would help to finance the scaffolding of a community-wide governance structure to manage the local Say Yes partnership and to seed student and family supports that, in other Say Yes communities, have included school-based social work; mental and physical health; legal services; college and career counseling; tutoring, and robust after-school and summer enrichment programs.
Graduates of partner high schools in Say Yes communities also have access to income-based scholarships from the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which includes the eight members of the Ivy League, as well as Duke, MIT, Northwestern, the University of Notre Dame and Stanford.