Say Yes to Education Receives Commitments From Local Businesses Building up to ‘Say Yes Day’ March 3

Several companies have contributed nearly $500,000 in support of Say Yes Scholarship Endowment fund.

On Saturday, March 3, the second annual “Say Yes Day” at the Carrier Dome will celebrate Say Yes to Education and the commitment of its supporters to citywide education transformation. During the men’s basketball game against the University of Louisville at 4 p.m., everything inside the Dome will again be “Say Yes” to recognize the largest school improvement program of its kind in the nation for more than 20,000 students in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD).

Leading up to Say Yes Day, several area businesses and foundations have contributed to the Say Yes Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is managed by the Central New York Community Foundation. These commitments, along with those from individual donors, have been matched dollar for dollar by SRC, Inc., a local research and development company based in North Syracuse. SRC, Inc., announced a challenge match of $5 million to the Say Yes Scholarship Endowment Fund at last year’s Say Yes event at the Dome.  The scholarship fund provides last dollar scholarships to Syracuse City School District graduates attending the colleges and universities that partner with Say Yes to Education–particularly the SUNY and CUNY institutions.

Several companies have contributed nearly $500,000 in support of the Say Yes Scholarship Endowment fund. These local supporters include M&T Bank; Hueber Breuer Construction Co. Inc.; Alliance Financial Charitable Foundation; King & King Architects; Printing and Promotional Solutions; Empower Federal Credit Union; Dupli Envelope and Graphics Corp.; Knowledge Systems and Research; Anheuser-Busch; and Security Mutual Life Insurance.

“Say Yes is deeply appreciative of these generous gifts,” says Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, president of Say Yes, Inc.  “Thousands of students will benefit from new opportunities because of this support, helping to create better outcomes for our college-ready students. With this gift leadership, we will continue to build on the momentum to ensure the success of Say Yes.”

On the afternoon of March 3, at 2 p.m. Say Yes supporters will be recognized at a pre-game reception at Syracuse University’s Life Sciences Complex.  The program will feature a presentation by Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras and the announcement of additional gifts to the scholarship endowment.

Say Yes Is Making a Difference

Nearly 2,000 Say Yes students have enrolled in two- and four-year colleges (public and private) since the fall of 2009, and a total of $2.5 million in Say Yes grants have been provided to students over three years.

The impact Say Yes Syracuse is having on the lives of city students is measurable in several indicators:

  • Ninth grade dropout rates have decreased by 44 percent since 2009 and 2010;
  • Ninth grade algebra Regents exam passing rates are up by more than 30 percent;
  • The number of SCSD children who were in foster care dropped from 200 to 59 since Say Yes began providing family supports through Huntington Family Center;
  • In partnership with Onondaga County, K-8 schools in the district have been able to increase the number of social workers in school buildings and reduce the ratio families served from 500:1 to 200:1;
  • As part of the Promise Zone commitment, SCSD, Say Yes to Education, the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health and community based organizations are working toward their goal of having one mental health clinic in every school in the district;
  • Seven Say Yes legal clinics are now open in all four quadrants of the District and are staffed by five local law firms to provide free legal advice, service and referrals to families in areas such as housing, immigration, child custody and debtor rights;
  • Out of 315 students identified to not have health insurance since 2009, 286 (91 percent) have now completed an application through Say Yes in partnership with the Salvation Army.

The success of Say Yes is also evident in the stories of many young people.

Amber Jackson, a junior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, was born and raised in Syracuse and educated in the Syracuse City School District. Growing up in a single-parent household, money was tight, but her mother always encouraged her to get high grades, have almost perfect attendance, and value everything she learned in school.

As a high school student, Jackson had a 98 academic average, was sixth in her class, and was the captain of two sports teams. But with graduation nearing, the family started to panic about how to pay for college.

In February 2007, Jackson’s father passed away, leaving a heartbroken family behind and a dire financial situation. “I remember the day I came home and my mom told me about an article on Say Yes she read in the newspaper. I knew at once this program would change my life and the lives of my classmates forever,” says Jackson. “The impact Say Yes has had on my life and the burden it has taken off of my hard-working family is indescribable. It gave me the chance to get the higher education I have always dreamed of and that my family has always wished for me.

Thriving at Hobart and William Smith—a Say Yes compact member school— Jackson is a double major in English and communications.

“This unbelievable program opened doors for me and thousands of other overlooked students to get the education they deserve and have dreamed of. There is a stereotype against city school kids that they lack ambition, aren’t smart and are troublesome, but many of these students go through life experiences many people cannot comprehend. I know the possibilities for a solid career and successful future are endless now.”

About Say Yes to Education Syracuse

Say Yes is a landmark collaboration that brings the SCSD, SU, Say Yes to Education, Inc., the Syracuse Teachers’ Association, the Syracuse Association of Administrators and Supervisors, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, the American Institutes for Research and a diverse group of Syracuse area corporate, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations together to organize people, time, money and resources to support city students.

Syracuse is the first community in the United States committed to ensuring that all public school students can afford and succeed in college. Say Yes operates chapters located in Hartford, Conn., New York City and Philadelphia, but Syracuse is the first Say Yes chapter to embrace an entire city school district, making it the largest school improvement program of its kind in the nation. In December 2011, Say Yes announced that Buffalo, N.Y., would be a Say Yes chapter.

Say Yes Syracuse students who attend 10th, 11th and 12th grade, and graduate from a Syracuse City School District high school are eligible for free college tuition at Say Yes compact colleges in New York state. Additionally, 5,100 students are enrolled in after-school programs with local community-based organizations, and approximately 2,200 students are expected to attend Say Yes Summer Camp this year.  An estimated 350 college students will be hired to work as Enrichment Specialists in Say Yes summer camps.

The School of Education will sell Loud Towels during the Louisville-Syracuse Men’s Basketball game, which begins at 4 PMon Saturday, March 3, with a portion of the proceeds donated to Say Yes to Education. March 3rd will be the second annual Say Yes Day at the Carrier Dome, and Say Yes will be publicly thanking corporate partners that have supported the organization.

School of Education staff will be selling the towels in the back court for $7.99, with $1.99 from each towel going directly to Say Yes to Education. Other organizations also benefitting from sales include the Burton Blatt Institute and the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation.

Former SU basketball player Lawrence Moten and School of Education alumni and former SU football player Dave Jacobs created the bright orange Loud Towel to give back to the SU community. Proceeds from the Loud Towel have traditionally gone to organizations for disability rights, education, and healthcare. In addition to buying Loud Towels at basketball games, they can be purchased at Shirt World, owned by Jacobs, on Marshall Street.

For more information on Say Yes Day or the Say Yes Syracuse program, visit:, or contact Susan Dutch at 315-443-1525; You can also follow Say Yes on Twitter at @SayYesSyracuse, and on Facebook.