GREENSBORO, N.C. – Phillips Foundation today pledged $5 million – the largest grant in its history – toward a proposed revolutionary approach to education in Guilford County called Say Yes to Education. The pledge is the first financial commitment to a new $28-million fundraising effort launched by organizations leading local Say Yes efforts.

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Elizabeth Phillips, executive director of Phillips Foundation

The pledge from the Greensboro-based Phillips Foundation is contingent upon the national Say Yes organization selecting Guilford County as the next Say Yes community in the United States. Last month, Say Yes notified Guilford that it is the leading candidate for this designation.

“Phillips Foundation seeks out once-in-a-generation, transformational grant opportunities within Greensboro and Guilford County,” said Elizabeth Phillips, executive director of the Phillips Foundation. “Say Yes is an ideal fit for our investment criteria, as it will produce positive, measurable, system-wide outcomes in our public schools and community, with ripple effects to the national education conversation. We are proud to be a lead local funder in this important effort to bring the promise of higher education to students of Guilford County Schools, and we look forward to being a strong partner in this community-wide campaign.”

In early 2014, Guilford County Schools and the Guilford Education

Alliance – with the support and assistance of The Community Foundation

From left, The Rev. Amos Quick, vice chair of the Guilford Board of Education, Alan Duncan, board chair, and Elizabeth Phillips, executive director of Phillips Foundation

From left, The Rev. Amos Quick, vice chair of the Guilford Board of Education, Alan Duncan, board chair, and Elizabeth Phillips, executive director of Phillips Foundation

of Greater Greensboro and the High Point Community Foundation – launched an exploration of a potential partnership with Say Yes to Education.

Founded in 1987, Say Yes is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that organizes and galvanizes communities around the goal of every student in the public school system graduating high school, and then helps those students access, afford and complete a college or other post-secondary education. A key component of a Say Yes partnership focuses on how a community addresses the social, emotional and financial barriers that prevent students from achieving this goal.

Local Say Yes leaders lauded the Phillips Foundation for its support.

“This kind of game-changing launch for our fundraising efforts sets us on a course to achieve our ambitious goal,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, superintendent of Guilford County Schools. “As part of a group that has been exploring this potential partnership with Say Yes for the past year, I have found students, teachers, principals and community leaders responding with interest and enthusiasm. This investment from the Phillips Foundation is a tangible sign of the remarkable support in our community for Say Yes.”

To be officially selected as the next Say Yes community, Guilford County must achieve several remaining goals – one being fundraising. “Today, we are announcing that we have set out to realize an initial $28-million fundraising goal,” said Mona G. Edwards, chief operating officer of The Community Foundation and a local Say Yes team member. “To achieve this goal will send a strong and necessary message to Say Yes that we have the financial wherewithal and commitment in Guilford County to back up the excitement we feel about this potential opportunity.”

Additional announcements about fundraising are anticipated over the next few months, Edwards added.

“We have had – and continue to have – many conversations with Say Yes donor prospects,” said Winston McGregor, executive director of Guilford Education Alliance. “Many local businesses, families and individuals have expressed tremendous enthusiasm for the Say Yes approach and understand the difference Say Yes could make for our community. These discussions have given us great confidence regarding the fundraising needed to make Say Yes a reality for Guilford.”

But a lot of work lies ahead, Edwards added. “This is not a done deal. There is much work for all of us to accomplish over the next few months to make Say Yes happen for Guilford County. And we cannot stress enough that a Say Yes commitment is a community-wide undertaking for Guilford County.”

To this end, Say Yes organizers are preparing additional steps to assist with raising awareness and understanding of the Say Yes concept throughout the entire community. This includes presentations to parents and civic groups and a social media campaign.

People can follow Guilford’s Say Yes efforts on Facebook at facebook.com/Guilford-says-yes.

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About Phillips Foundation

In 2005, Kermit Phillips founded the Kermit G. Phillips II Charitable Trust for the purpose of making grants to non-profit causes as elected by the Phillips family. The trust’s endowment gained the majority of its funding in 2013 and now operates as the Phillips Foundation. Phillips entrusted his philanthropic legacy to the current Board of Trustees, which has decided to focus its grant making on empowering and impacting the Greensboro, N.C. community.

The Phillips Foundation is interested in opportunities within the following categories:

  • Housing and homelessness
  • Economic development
  • Arts and culture
  • Child and family services
  • Education and learning enrichment

For more information, visit phillipsfoundationnc.org.