Syracuse Say Yes Leads the Way in Providing Educational Opportunity

In September 2009, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden L’68 arrived on campus to lead a meeting of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families. Its purpose? To address college access and affordability. Why here? In large part, because of SU’s role in Syracuse’s Say Yes to Education initiative.

A partnership of Syracuse University, the Syracuse City School District, and the national Say Yes to Education Foundation, Syracuse Say Yes is designed to transform an entire school district, making it the largest school improvement program of its kind in the nation.

By providing all Syracuse city school students with a host of educational, social, and health care supports and the promise of college or vocational scholarships, the initiative seeks to help economically and socially disadvantaged children succeed academically and pursue higher education.

As 2009 began, more than 800 K-3 students in six elementary schools were participating in Say Yes after-school programs. That fall, the programs were expanded to serve grades K-4, and new programs were launched for K-3 students in six more schools.

Fall 2009 also marked the first time graduating students were eligible for free tuition through the Syracuse Say Yes to Education Scholarship Promise. Of the 600 seniors who took advantage of that opportunity, 37 are now enrolled at SU, including Nate Heffron.

As a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, Heffron counts economics and sociology among his favorite courses, has joined the tennis club, and writes for The Daily Orange. “I love everything about this place,” he says. “The Say Yes program made it possible for me to come here, and I know that will benefit me well into the future.”