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Davidson Joins with Say Yes to Education to Expand Access

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Say Yes to Education provides holistic support to disadvantaged students and their families.

Davidson College has partnered with Say Yes to Education, which helps organize and galvanize entire communities around the goals of making higher education accessible and affordable for every public high school graduate.

Say Yes, as the national nonprofit organization is more commonly known, announced its newest member institutions today at the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, in Indianapolis.

"Davidson is thrilled to join Say Yes as a partner. Davidson has long had a commitment to enrolling talented students, regardless of financial circumstances, and making sure that they thrive while on campus and beyond," said Christopher J. Gruber, Davidson College vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. "We look forward to this new relationship and to working with Say Yes students and their families in the future."

The organization provides holistic support to economically disadvantaged youth and families so that they may graduate from high school, accomplish post-secondary educational success, and achieve meaningful life goals. Supports provided by Say Yes include extended day/year programming, mentoring, tutoring, family services, health care and legal services.

Say Yes's tuition benefits and other supports are available to the families of nearly 65,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in every public school in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York. The organization expects to expand to at least one additional city as soon as 2015.

In joining the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, private colleges and universities agree to ensure that most of the students served by the organization-usually those whose annual family income is at or below $75,000-are eligible, at a minimum, to attend tuition-free, subject to the institution's admission and financial aid process. The students must also satisfy residency and other requirements in their particular Say Yes community.

Say Yes students whose family income is above $75,000 and who are enrolled in a member institution are eligible to receive annual grants from the organization itself of up to $5,000.

The first students who may apply under the new partnership agreements are those seeking to enroll in college in fall 2015.

Options & Outcomes

Along with Davidson, the newest member institutions are: Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.; Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa.; Occidental College, Pitzer College and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Calif.; Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.; and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

With the addition of its new partner institutions, 69 private colleges and universities are Say Yes members. Among the members are Colgate University, Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

Say Yes, which has its headquarters in New York City, was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss. Its mission has evolved over its 27-year history. For two decades Say Yes offered an array of services-and ultimately full-tuition college scholarships-to select groups of public school students. While Say Yes adopted a citywide approach in 2008, college scholarships are still available to several hundred students in the organization's earlier chapters in Harlem in New York City; and Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn.

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, the president and chief executive of Say Yes, commented on the broad range of choices the newest class of Say Yes' higher education partners represents for Say Yes Scholars.

"Say Yes wants its students to have access to the enrichment and educational options – as well as the positive outcomes – that children and families in more affluent communities demand,'' Schmitt-Carey said. "Our generous higher education partners not only offer Say Yes Scholars the prospect of affording a high-quality postsecondary education, but those institutions also provide the supports that students may need to succeed in graduating, including students from low-income and other backgrounds that have been underrepresented historically on college campuses."

Schmitt-Carey noted the organization's geographic reach – institutional partners are located in 16 states and the District of Columbia – and its partnership with Southwest Airlines. Southwest makes available a limited number of vouchers covering the full cost of a round-trip airline ticket that Say Yes Scholars, and an accompanying adult, can use to visit the campuses of its member institutions.

In Syracuse and Buffalo, graduates of the cities' public high schools are also eligible, regardless of family income, for up to 100 percent of the tuition needed to attend any public, two- or four-year college or university in New York State to which they are accepted. The scholarships are funded by local donors – including individuals, families, foundations and businesses-in those cities.

Nearly 4,000 high school graduates have attended college with the support of Say Yes since the organization's inception. Learn more about Say Yes.