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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How You Can Help Continue Make Say Yes Cleveland a Success

Guest Author

How You Can Help Continue Make Say Yes Cleveland a Success

by Lee Friedman, Chief Executive Officer of College Now Greater Cleveland

Sometimes, the ideas that can create the greatest change sound, at first, simple. On the face of it, the idea that investing in our students will pay off in the long run doesn’t sound so life changing. But when a community truly adopts that idea and lives out what "investing in our students” really means – beyond just writing a check - the true impact of this work can be realized.

At the Friday Forum last week, we heard more details on the support services being offered through Say Yes Cleveland. While some of these services are new, most are not, they are just being expanded, leveraged, or imbedded in the community in a new way. Say Yes is also offering a way to get stakeholders to the table – and to keep them there for twenty-plus years (this observation earned a laugh at the forum). It’s rare to find that kind of stamina and intentionality in social services projects. As Dale Anglin, one of the panelists, put it, “this model calls for collective effort.”

Cleveland is taking that call for collective effort seriously. We are investing millions in two generations of students, to ensure that they can focus on being students, rather than worrying about losing their apartment, or that legal issue that’s keeping their family in crisis.

We are investing in our students, so that when they walk across that stage at high school graduation, they will be well-poised to use their Say Yes Cleveland scholarship to pursue their postsecondary goals.

Ultimately, we are doing this not only because it’s the right thing to do for each individual student (which, of course, it is.) At the end of the day, we are investing in our students because as each individual succeeds, the city – and the region - succeed.

So, whether you are attracted by the economic argument, swayed by the stories of Family Support Specialists, or committed to the intrinsic justice of the project, you’ll want to get involved. Here are three ways to become an advocate and a partner in the Say Yes project in Cleveland. We hope you join us.

  • Become a mentor with the College Now Mentoring Program. As noted, we as a community are investing a great deal of resources in the success of our students. Getting them across the stage at high school graduation is just the first step, however; in order to ensure that students gain the most from the program, we must step up to help see them through their college or post-secondary training programs. If you have a two- or four-year college degree, you can mentor a Say Yes recipient after high school. Two emails per month and three in-person meetings per year are all it takes to profoundly influence two lives – your student, and yours. Click here to apply and start the process to mentor a student starting summer 2020. You can also contact Jabari Dorsey, College Now Mentoring Program Manager, with questions.

  • Help us raise the funds to ensure Say Yes can reach two full generations of students. Say Yes Cleveland has raised an impressive $93 million, but that leaves another $32 million that’s needed to fully fund Say Yes Cleveland scholarships for 25 years. Organizations and businesses can get involved by making Say Yes a recipient of a giving campaign, and of course individuals are welcome to contribute. Contact Diane Downing, Executive Director of Say Yes Cleveland, for more information.

  • Share your expertise on a Say Yes Cleveland Task Force. As mentioned at the Friday Forum, there are a series of Task Forces in place to pull together experts and advocates around key issues facing Cleveland students. To learn more, contact Diane Downing, Executive Director of Say Yes Cleveland.

As another good starting place, visit the Say Yes Cleveland website to learn more about Say Yes and what it means for Cleveland. Once you familiarize yourself with the initiative, share the information with your friends! Say Yes will have the most success when the entire community knows about it, what it means, and what Say Yes makes available for students.

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