Thursday, Sept. 17, was a great day for the 72,000 students in Guilford County Schools.
Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit that partners with communities and colleges to promote preparation for and access to higher education, announced that Guilford County will be the site of its newest chapter.
Say Yes also announced new partner institutions, including Guilford College. As a member of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, Guilford College will offer full-tuition scholarships to eligible students.
A majority of students in Guilford County Schools are from low-income and other backgrounds historically underrepresented on the nation’s college and university campuses. The county’s students are globally diverse, representing more than 79 countries and speaking nearly 100 languages.
“As someone who could not have attended college without a scholarship, I know first hand how transformative that commitment can be in the life of a young person,’’ said George Weiss, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who founded Say Yes in 1987 when he promised to help 112 Philadelphia sixth-graders to graduate high school and pay for their higher education.
“I am especially gratified today to see the way Guilford County has embraced the promise of Say Yes,” said George, a money manager with offices in New York City and Hartford, Conn., and chairman of Say Yes. “I also thank Say Yes’ 100 private college and university partners for standing with us.”
Guilford County becomes Say Yes’ third community chapter, joining the upstate New York cities of Buffalo, which began implementing the Say Yes community strategy in 2012, and Syracuse, which began a pilot program in 2008.
The selection of Guilford County doubles the number of students eligible for Say Yes scholarships and support services to nearly 140,000. The addition of Guilford College and other partners brings the Say Yes Higher Education Compact to the 100-member milestone.
“We’re thrilled that Guilford County, our home, will be a Say Yes chapter,” said Guilford College President Jane K. Fernandes. “George Weiss, your vision and commitment inspire us. To the many leaders throughout Guilford County who recognized and seized this opportunity, we applaud your work.”
“We are proud to join the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. Say Yes and Guilford College both exist to help students achieve their dreams. Our partnership serves this goal.”
Students in Guilford County Schools and their families will have access not only to full-tuition scholarships but also a menu of support and services – academic and social-emotional, as well as medical and legal – to ensure they progress successfully along the pathway to post-secondary readiness. Visit sayyesguilford.org to learn more.
The Greensboro News & Record provides answers to some frequently asked questions about Say Yes.
“Say Yes has given Guilford County a once-in-a generation gift that will provide opportunities for students that their families in the past could have only dreamed of,” said David Miller, a business leader whose industrial machine shop has been a mainstay in High Point since 1978.
A local partnership in support of Say Yes, which includes the school district, business leaders, government officials and local foundations, has raised more than $32 million in private donations in less than a year. The Say Yes national organization has pledged to invest $15 million over the next six years to assist the community in building the systems and structures to deliver scholarships and other services well into the future.
“This is a historic day for the children of our community and for Guilford County Schools,” said Guilford County Schools’ Superintendent Maurice O. “Mo” Green. “Entire generations of young people and their families will find their lives forever changed because our community and the Say Yes National Foundation believe in them and are willing to help them make their dreams of a college education possible.”