Press Release

The Wallace Foundation Awards Grant of $4.2 Million to Say Yes To Education

December 20, 2011

Say yes to education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kelly Davis
866-955-9450 ext. 320
kdavis@communicationworks.com

Susan Dutch
315-443-1525
sdutch@syr.edu

Grant Will Support Implementation of Say Yes Syracuse and Development of Guidebook

NEW YORK —December 20, 2011– Say Yes to Education, Inc. announced today announced that The Wallace Foundation has committed to investing more than $4.2 million in Say Yes over the next three years to support the implementation of Say Yes Syracuse and support the development of tools that share lessons learned from Say Yes' City-Wide Turnaround Strategy.

Based in New York City, The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy that seeks to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children. The foundation has an unusual approach: funding projects to test innovative ideas for solving important social problems, conducting research to find out what works and what doesn't and to fill key knowledge gaps – and then communicating the results to help others.

"We are pleased to invest in Say Yes to Education as one of a group of leading national organizations that are developing promising models of expanding the school day or year in ways that help students in urban schools achieve," said Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation. "These efforts share a common commitment to high-quality instructional programming and using data to inform their work."

Say Yes' City-Wide Turnaround Strategy focuses on postsecondary completion, support from a partnership with a higher education institute, transparent accountability, transparent and sustainable fiscal management, and a collaborative governance model, bringing together all sectors involved in the well-being of children and families. These key components comprise the Strategy's five "Due Diligence Criteria," which Say Yes believes are necessary to address the breadth of severe challenges faced by many of today's students.

In 2008, Syracuse was chosen as the first community to apply this bold strategy and bring change to all 32 schools in the district. Syracuse City School District was broken up into quadrants based on high school feeder patterns, and each year Say Yes programming began in an additional quadrant. This is the first year of implementation across all quadrants of the district.

Of the total grant, $3.75 million will be directed to Say Yes Syracuse to support Say Yes' work in the community over the next three years, including the creation of a Model Guidebook and Turnaround Toolkit. Wallace's grant is part of a larger initiative to generate useful lessons about how to provide more time for learning through summer learning and extending the school day or year.

"The generosity of The Wallace Foundation is a testament to the work Syracuse has done on behalf of its children," said Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, President of Say Yes to Education, Inc. "By creating a collaborative system, the city is on the path to truly transforming the way students are being served, and Say Yes looks forward to continuing to support the work that has been done with the help of The Wallace Foundation."

Early evidence of the positive effects the City-Wide Turnaround Strategy has had on Syracuse includes:

  • Home values have risen by 3.5 percent.
  • More than $32 million dollars has been raised, during the worst economic downturn of a generation, to support this comprehensive and unprecedented effort.
  • Teachers perceive improvement in the academic supports at their schools.
  • School attendance is high and students report that their coursework is challenging.
  • The number of students who dropped out, were incarcerated, or otherwise left the school district decreased by 44 percent between 2009 and 2010.
  • During after school programs, more than 4,100 students in 19 schools participate in enrichment opportunities, youth engagement activities, and leadership opportunities.
  • Summer camps o¬ffered at 19 diff¬erent schools serve more than 2,100 students and provide hands-on activities, creative thinking and positive social experiences.
  • The ninth grade Algebra Regents Exam Passing Rate was up by more than 30 percent from 2009 to 2010.
  • Since 2009, Say Yes has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to students attending SUNY colleges.

The Model Guidebook and Turnaround Toolkit are aimed at sharing lessons that Say Yes has learned during the program's initial implementation in Syracuse in order to provide leaders with proven strategies to be put in place in other cities. These tools will provide leaders with the framework necessary to engage an entire community and help them rally around a key goal: post-secondary completion.

"The school district's partnership with Say Yes to Education is imperative as we seek to transform the Syracuse City School District. Our mission is to ensure that all of our students are prepared for success in college and the workforce, and with resources from Say Yes providing financial, emotional, health, and academic support, this vision can become a reality," said Sharon L. Conteras, Superintendent of the Syracuse City School District.

The remaining $500,000 of the Wallace Foundation grant will support planning efforts for the expansion of Say Yes to Education's city-wide strategy to a second city, which was announced this morning as Buffalo, N.Y. Say Yes will begin working in Buffalo public schools in Fall 2012.

"We're thrilled that The Wallace Foundation is partnering with Say Yes Syracuse," said Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Our mutual goals are profoundly in synch with each other—tackling the great challenges of remaking urban education, marshaling the best evidence-based knowledge, and communicating broadly about what works and what doesn't. Together, we are determined to make a truly transformative impact!"

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About Say Yes to Education:
Say Yes to Education, Inc. (Say Yes) is a national, non-profit education foundation committed to dramatically increasing high school and college graduation rates for our nation's urban youth. Say Yes provides comprehensive supports, including the promise of free college tuition, aligned with what research indicates is needed to enable every child in the program to achieve his or her potential. Learn more at www.sayyestoeducation.org

About Say Yes Syracuse:
Say Yes is a landmark collaboration that brings the Syracuse City School District, Syracuse University, 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, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations together to organize people, time, money and resources to support city students. Learn more at www.sayyessyracuse.org

About The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for children. The foundation maintains an online library of lessons at www.wallacefoundation.org about what it has learned, including knowledge from its current efforts aimed at: strengthening educational leadership to improve student achievement; helping disadvantaged students gain more time for learning through summer learning and an extended school day and year; enhancing out-of-school time opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts.