With 25 years of innovation and results, Say Yes has transformed the lives of thousands of students, families, and community members.

A national strategy for urban improvement, Say Yes is:

  • An approach to education reform that can be scaled up city by city. Today, many solutions to our education problems are focused on turning around individual schools. Say Yes works to change the expectations, culture, and management of the entire system and beyond, focusing on everything from financial management and data-driven decision-making to providing needed student supports and changing how time is used inside and outside of school.
  • A tuition guarantee that opens the door to college to tens of thousands of students. Through a tuition guarantee from Say Yes to Education and other donors, each of the more than 60,000 students in Syracuse and Buffalo public schools are eligible to attend a Say Yes Higher Education Compact institution. The tuition guarantee helps ensure that low-income students and their families can pay for college and encourages students to work hard in school, knowing that success in postsecondary education is possible.
  • A commitment to every child and family in a community. Unlike education reforms targeting specific students or schools, Say Yes's citywide approach supports every student in the Syracuse and Buffalo public school districts, regardless of income level, or family background. All children in the city have access to tutoring, academic, emotional, health, and family supports from early childhood through high school and beyond—supports that turn the promise of college into a tangible pathway for every student. Say Yes also works with the city’s school system and teachers union to ensure that students are doing rigorous academic work during an extended school day and academic year.
  • An urban action agenda focused on building a strong workforce, combating poverty, and investing in people as a means of advancing residents’ social and economic progress.
  • A catalytic approach to educational and economic success that transforms the role of government and creates a unified action agenda for every sector in a region. Say Yes provides a model for regional cooperation that brings together leaders from every sector—government, philanthropy, businesses, nonprofit services, parents and the faith community—to play specific and interconnected roles in ensuring the success of every child.
  • A national leader in advancing greater efficiency, transparency, and results in public education. Say Yes uses a monitoring system to track financial and student performance, along with 13 key benchmarks to ensure the efficacy of its programs—and shares this results-oriented information with its partners. Outside support donated by the American Institutes for Research, one of the nation’s largest and most sophisticated applied research and technical assistance organizations, has helped provide the data and expertise to power this efficient and effective system.