I recently spent several days in Washington, D.C. with mayors from across the nation, including Mayor David Bing from Detroit and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Despite their passion for their cities, they all spoke of the daily struggle to find answers for the same familiar set of challenges -- declining tax bases, high concentrations of poverty, an aging housing stock and most sadly, generations of young people searching for a glimmer of hope in urban landscapes that present difficult challenges for them every single day. The Mayors laughed, but understood, when President Obama said: "It was President (Lyndon) Johnson who once said, 'When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor.' "
Big or small, every city including Syracuse faces the same set of obstacles. But coming away from that meeting I was struck yet again by the realization that Syracuse, unlike all other cities, has something no-one else does: the remarkable glimmer of hope that is Say Yes to Education.
Say Yes to Education allowed almost 600 graduates from the Syracuse City School District last June to attend college tuition free. That is remarkable. But what is just as important is that Say Yes and its partners at Syracuse University and the school district are creating new programs in the classroom and support systems outside of school to help every child from kindergarten on up get to the finish line and graduate.
I came back from my meetings in Washington more committed than ever to doing everything I can as Mayor to ensure that Say Yes grows and becomes financially sustainable so it can reach its full promise for students and for parents selecting Syracuse as the place to raise their families.