Jun 19, 2009 Herm Card Uncategorized
Part 2: A definite Yes
Syracuse is first to fully commit to Yes. Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, President of Say Yes to Education, Inc says that in its first 20 years, Say Yes has assisted some 1000 students to achieve a college education.
“So far Say Yes has donated or committed over 100 million dollars to education and we don’t want to wait 20 years to serve another thousand,” she said.
The Say Yes to Education, Inc. was founded in 1987 by legendary hedge-fund trader George Weiss with the intention of providing educational opportunities to a broad spectrum of disadvantaged youth. Focusing on removing the stumbling blocks that frequently face inner city students, Say Yes concentrates on creating an environment that not only encourages students to prepare for college, it removes many of the stumbling blocks that inhibit education and also provides the financial means for those who qualify to attend college.
According to Say Yes, the genesis of the program was a fraternity sponsored Christmas party for inner city children when Mr. Weiss was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. Weiss was taken by the life stories of the 12 children attending the party. He kept in contact with the then 12-year-olds, and during a visit for homecoming seven years, reconnected with them.
One of the group, all of whom had graduated from high school, told Weiss that it was his inspiration that had pushed them to succeed, “We could not have dropped out and looked you straight in the eye.”
This revelation was the inspiration for Weiss to dedicate himself to providing the means for inner city youth to succeed.
Under the direction of Schmitt-Carey, Say Yes has partnered with elements of school districts in Philadelphia, Hartford, CT, Cambridge MA and Harlem to carry out its mission.
To expand its focus and impact, Say Yes had been attempting to forge a bond with the four upstate urban school districts, and Syracuse was the only one to take the major step, showing the willingness to implement the Say Yes program district wide.
A coincidental meeting between Schmitt-Carey and Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor ultimately led to a commitment from Syracuse City School District Superintendent Dan Lowengard to implement the unique partnership among SU, Say Yes and the SCSD. In so doing, Syracuse became the first school district in the country to make such a wide scale commitment — a Say Yes commitment for some 20,000 students.
According to Schmitt-Carey, the Syracuse partnership has already attracted the attention of national leaders in education, and is becoming a much watched project nation wide.
The program has operated since December 2008 in the Corcoran Quadrant of the city, and today Schmitt-Carey was on the SU campus to kick off the final implementation in those six schools, the Say Yes to Education Summer Camp program that begins July 6th and runs through Aug. 7.
According to Susan Feightner, SU’s Director of Marketing for Say Yes, 130 camp counselors were selected from a pool of over 400 applicants for their various interests and skills, creative thinking and positive energy. The college students will spend two weeks training in the areas of lesson planning, community building, first aid, and classroom management.
Approximately 100 area teachers will teach in the camps as part of the Urban Teacher Calendar, a program aimed at making summer school more available to students by having a large pool of teachers available to work during those months.
The camp program is free, and will be attended by close to 800 seven-to-10-year-old students from the six elementary schools in the quadrant. The camps will be a mixture of challenging academics and sports, music, nature and science oriented field trips.
Next: The downtown connection: SCSD and Say Yes.
Say Yes and SCSD
Together operate the program through Say Yes site based teams at each school. The Corcoran quadrant teams, each with a Site Director and Program Coordinator, respectively.
Dr. King: Nira Taru, Dawn Hudson
Meachem: Janet Eatman, Jennifer Holland
Van Duyn: Jenna LaManna, Lauren Williams
Roberts: Nicole Miller, Jessica Earley
McKinley-Brighton: Roshana Daniel, Kevin Adams
Elmwood: Asomygee Pamoja (ASOMYGEE PAMOJA), Rhoda Smith
Say Yes mission:
The mission of Say Yes To Education is to value and realize the promise and extraordinary potential of economically disadvantaged youth and families. Say Yes recognizes the daunting challenges faced by children living in poverty, and believes children can overcome these challenges when given significant, holistic support.
Say Yes is committed to providing this support to at-risk children and their families, enabling them to graduate from high school, accomplish post-secondary educational success, and achieve meaningful life goals, including giving back to their communities.