GREENSBORO, N.C. – Lincoln Financial Foundation is saying yes to local students with a $500,000 pledge toward helping bring the national education initiative Say Yes to Education to the area. Lincoln’s commitment will directly support a critical technology need which helps ensure that students in the Guilford County Schools system (GCS) stay on track toward graduation.
“Educating our youth is one of Lincoln Financial Foundation’s highest priorities,” said Jana Barrett, Lincoln Foundation’s Greensboro program officer. “We believe that a strong educational system is the hallmark of a strong community and we look forward to partnering with Say Yes to Education in Guilford County.”
Mike Burns, senior vice president, Insurance Solutions, and head of Individual Life & Partner Solutions at Lincoln, agreed. “It’s important for the region’s economic future that we provide a pipeline of talent for the jobs we have today as well as the ones that we will create in the future. Advancing educational opportunity is the surest means we have of achieving that goal.”
Say Yes works with communities to remove financial and other barriers that prevent success by providing students and families the support and tools they need from before kindergarten all the way through graduation. For those who choose to participate, supports could include health services, tutoring and mentoring, financial aid, counseling and more. A robust system is required to insure students are receiving the individual support they need to succeed. Lincoln Financial’s generous support will help pay for this tool.
“This will help us support individual planning for each student, address their needs, and build on their strengths,” said Nora Carr, chief of staff of Guilford County Schools. “Test scores and course grades are a piece of the puzzle. To get the most complete picture, information and insights from parents, service providers and students themselves are also important.”
“Once again, Lincoln Financial has stepped forward to create a new future for the children of Guilford County,” said Winston McGregor, executive director of Guilford Education Alliance. “We have resources in our community to meet needs, but we can waste time and money when we lack strong coordination. The Lincoln Financial Foundation grant provides the critical tool that will help parents, students, GCS and the community work together more efficiently and effectively.”
Say Yes scholarships are supported by the monies generated from a local endowment fund. It is estimated that $70 million must ultimately be raised for an endowment to support the students in the Guilford County Schools system. Should Guilford County move to full partnership, the national Say Yes organization will invest an additional $15 million to help coordinate support services in our community and build a plan for long-term sustainability.
Say Yes to Education hopes to announce its next community partner by this fall. All financial pledges in support of the program locally are contingent on Say Yes officially choosing Guilford as its next community partner. To date:
- Phillips Foundation: $5 million
- The Edward M. Armfield, Sr. Foundation: Up to $5 million
- Earl and Kitty Congdon family, High Point: $2 million
- Anonymous family in High Point: $2 million
- VF Corporation: $2 million
- United Guaranty Corporation: $1 million
- Weaver Foundation: $1.25 million
- Slane family, High Point: $1 million
- David R. Hayworth, High Point: $1 million
- Rob and Susan Culp family, High Point: $1 million
- Anonymous individual in High Point: $1 million
- Anonymous couple in area: $1 million
- Cone Health Foundation: $1 million
- The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro: $1 million
- Lincoln Financial Foundation: $500,000
In early 2014, Guilford County Schools and the Guilford Education Alliance – with the support and assistance of The Community Foundation and the High Point Community Foundation – launched an exploration of a potential partnership with Say Yes to Education.
Say Yes to Education informed Guilford County in January that it is the leading candidate to be the nation’s next Say Yes community. The national organization hopes to make a final decision about Guilford by fall.
Say Yes to Education, Inc. – usually referred to simply as “Say Yes” – was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss, who promised 112 sixth graders at a Philadelphia elementary school that he would pay for their college education if they graduated high school. Say Yes, which has its headquarters in Manhattan, later opened smaller chapters (typically serving 100 to 300 public school students) in Cambridge, Mass.; Hartford, Conn., and Harlem in New York City, as well as two more in Philadelphia.
Over the last decade, Say Yes’ mission has evolved to encompass entire communities. Say Yes has thus far worked with local partners to implement its community-wide strategy in the upstate New York cities of Syracuse (since 2008) and Buffalo (2012).
What makes the Say Yes program unique is that it is not simply about providing last-dollar tuition scholarships. In addition, Say Yes helps provide those students and their families with the academic, social-emotional and other supports to ensure that they can seize that opportunity. In other Say Yes communities, supports include tutoring, after-school programs, summer programs, medical care, counseling and legal help. Say Yes would invest $15 million in seed funding for such supports in Guilford County. However, Guilford County would decide what local supports are needed here, not the Say Yes organization.
Say Yes also invests in seed and expansion funding, capacity and technology. The national organization provides significant staff resources to put together long-term financial plans so that the work its partner communities engage in is sustainable. Its $15 million would be invested here over three to five years. After that, Say Yes would provide modest funding to cover the cost of a small coordinating staff on an ongoing basis.
Say Yes to Education already has invested more than $1 million in Guilford to conduct feasibility studies, share its vision and to create some basic structure for moving forward. The Say Yes team has visited area schools and met with diverse stakeholders from across the community to explore what it would mean to bring Say Yes here. This includes parents, students, teachers, nonprofits, business leaders, faith leaders, college and university administrators, and local government officials.
People can follow Guilford’s Say Yes efforts at GuilfordSaysYes.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/GuilfordSaysYes.
About Lincoln Financial Foundation:
The Lincoln Financial Foundation, established in 1962, is a nonprofit organization formed and supported by Lincoln Financial Group. Under Foundation guidelines, grants are made in the areas of arts, education, human services and economic/workforce development. The Foundation awarded more than $1.8 million to support nonprofits in Greensboro in 2014. Since 2006, the Foundation has contributed more than $15.7 million to Greensboro nonprofits.
About The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro
The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is a charitable organization dedicated to strengthening the community for present and future generations. The Community Foundation promotes philanthropy, builds and maintains a permanent collection of endowment funds and serves as a trustworthy partner and leader in shaping effective responses to community issues and opportunities. Visit CFGG.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.