GREENSBORO, N.C. – One of the community’s leading civic organizations – Summit Rotary – has committed its support to the local Say Yes to Education effort. The organization today announced it has pledged its $450,000 endowment toward the revolutionary program, for which Guilford County is in the running, and will help provide important mentoring opportunities to future high school graduates.
“We are excited to be a part of the much larger Say Yes to Education program to make the dream of a college education financially available to all of the students in Guilford County,” said Zac Engle, president of the Summit Rotary Foundation.
Engle pointed out that supporting an education program such as Say Yes is very much in line with Summit Rotary’s mission. “Summit Rotary has a history of supporting youth in the community through initiatives like the McKnight Scholarship Program,” he said.
Summit Rotary Club, which is comprised of 110 members, strives to be the organization of choice for creative, service-oriented volunteers in the greater Greensboro area by exemplifying the Rotary International commitment to “Service Above Self.” Joined by a common purpose to make a difference in the world, Summit Rotarians dedicate both their time and resources to improving peoples’ lives, especially youth, at home and around the world, while nurturing and developing the many talents that each member brings to the group.
“This very generous gift will provide for 16 $1,500 scholarship opportunities every year to Guilford County Schools system graduates,” said Winston McGregor, executive director of Guilford Education Alliance, which is helping lead the efforts to bring Say Yes here. “They also are going to launch a mentoring program and help us galvanize support from others in the community to serve as mentors to students. They will help future graduates navigate college prep and selection and the application process. We’re very grateful to Summit Rotary for believing in Say Yes and for their tremendous gifts – both financial and time.”
A local Say Yes program would provide all eligible graduates of the Guilford County Schools system a last-dollar tuition scholarship for post-secondary education. Supporters say this would result in far-ranging, positive effects on the community, including a more educated labor force, incentives for businesses to start or relocate into the area, a stronger tax base, increased property values and more.
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.
- 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
- Summit Rotary Foundation: $450,000
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 Summit Rotary
Founded in 1957, Summit Rotary in Greensboro has 110 members. For more information, visit summitrotary.org .
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.