NEW YORK--(Say Yes, a national non-profit committed to dramatically increasing high school and college graduation rates for our nation's urban youth. Michael Strahan, co-host of TV’s “Live! With Kelly and Michael” and former NFL star, served as master of ceremonies for the event, which honored George Weiss, Say Yes’ chairman and founder, for his tireless efforts on behalf of young people.)--More than $4.5 million was raised last night at the Say Yes to Education 25th Anniversary Gala to support the work of
“I am committed to leveling the playing field so that all students have the opportunity to attend and succeed in college.”
The Gala, held at Cipriani 42nd Street, featured moving testimonials from those Say Yes has helped along the way, such as Kimberly Carmichael, a member of the first Say Yes class in Philadelphia who is now a youth counselor.
“The faith, love and support that I have received from all the Say Yes staff throughout the years have helped to fuel my determination to do better and live a better life for myself,” Carmichael told a room of 600.
Since Weiss founded Say Yes in 1987 by promising 112 sixth graders at a school in one of Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods that he would pay for their college educations if they made it through high school, Say Yes has sent thousands of students to college. Over the past two decades, Say Yes to Education developed cohort chapters in other communities, including Cambridge, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Harlem, New York City.
More than 75 percent of these Say Yes students have graduated from high school. Additionally, more than 50 percent of all participating students achieved a postsecondary degree. Say Yes students have attended over 140 different higher education institutions across the nation, including Brown, Colgate, Cornell, Fordham University, Morgan State, NYU, SUNY Albany, and University of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Weiss recognized that too many students were still underserved and took on the challenge of working with entire cities, beginning in Syracuse, followed by Buffalo in 2012. In those cities, Say Yes currently works to coordinate the efforts of a broad range of government agencies and community organizations to provide comprehensive services and revamps academic programs to better serve students, families, and taxpayers.
Say Yes combines a comprehensive support system with the powerful incentive of college scholarships to remove the barriers to post-secondary access and success for youth.
“The success of our students has been the true reward of this work,” Weiss said. “I am committed to leveling the playing field so that all students have the opportunity to attend and succeed in college.”
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.