Frequently Asked Questions


FAQs en Español

FAQs in Burmese/ဗမာထဲတွင် အမေးအဖြေများ

FAQs in Vietnamese/Câu hỏi thường gặp trong tiếng Việt

FAQs in French/français

FAQs in Arabic/أسئلة وأجوبة باللغة العربية

What is Say Yes to Education?

Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit organization founded in the late 1980s by money manager George Weiss, whose business is headquartered in New York City and Hartford, CT.  In 1987, Weiss promised 112 sixth graders at a Philadelphia public school, that when they graduated high school, he would pay for their college education. He also provided the students, and their families, with supports to help them reach that goal. He repeated this promise over the next two decades with other groups of children in Philadelphia, as well as in Cambridge, MA, Hartford, CT, and Harlem in New York City. In the mid-2000s, in response to Weiss’ desire to take the idea of Say Yes to scale, the organization expanded its strategy to apply to entire communities – and to make its services available to all of the children enrolled in a community’s public schools.

Since then, Say Yes has helped galvanize its partner communities around three main goals. First, Say Yes helps communities build local endowments that provide last dollar tuition scholarships so public school graduates can afford and complete a postsecondary education. Second, Say Yes works with the community to build student supports that help students every step of the way. In other Say Yes communities, these include after-school programs, summer programs, tutoring, legal assistance, health services and more. Third, Say Yes works with school leadership to ensure students are on the path to academic success.

What will Say Yes do for Guilford County?

The Say Yes Guilford partnership will provide an unprecedented opportunity for our whole community to work together to ensure that every graduate of the Guilford County Schools system (GCS) can get a college education or postsecondary certificate. Say Yes communities enjoy a significant, positive economic impact. Say Yes creates a more educated labor force, incentives for businesses to start or relocate into a community, a stronger tax base, increased property values and more. Say Yes can help revitalize our community and improve economic outcomes, while also helping students and families achieve their dreams of a college education.

Why did Say Yes choose Guilford County as a partner community?

Following a national competition, the Say Yes Board of Directors and senior management team chose our community for several reasons, including the openness of community partners to work together, the high percentage of our public school students who are from low-income backgrounds, and the steady leadership within GCS. Other reasons include the quality of our local colleges and universities, and the potential for raising the money needed for the college scholarship endowment that will benefit students for years to come.

What does Say Yes to Education know about our community?

The organization has already invested more than $1 million in our community to conduct feasibility studies, to share their vision and to create some basic structure for moving forward. The Say Yes team has met with diverse stakeholders from across our community to explore what it would mean to bring Say Yes here. This includes parents, students, teachers, nonprofits, business leaders, faith leaders, college and university administrators, and local government officials.

Has Say Yes done this work in other communities?

Yes. Say Yes has implemented programs with groups of students ranging in size from 50 to 300 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hartford, Connecticut; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Harlem, New York. Its community-wide strategy was piloted in the upstate New York city of Syracuse and has since been implemented in Buffalo, New York’s second largest city. Guilford County becomes the first county implementing Say Yes, and the first location outside of the Northeastern United States.

When will Say Yes tuition scholarships be available to students?

Say Yes scholarships are available to students who graduate from GCS high schools beginning in the Spring of 2016. 

When will Say Yes services be available to students?

We anticipate the first phase of services would begin in GCS starting in 2016. Planning teams and working groups of Guilford County community members will identify services students and families need, and which services already exist but are not easy to access. In Syracuse, the services have been phased in over a period of five years. In Buffalo, services are still unfolding in the third year of Say Yes.


For information about Say Yes Guilford’s scholarships, visit our scholarships and resources page. You can also view this PDF form with more information.

Student Supports and School Success

How will the student supports work?

Starting with our youngest learners and ending only after students reach the goal of college graduation, the Say Yes investment of $15 million over five years will help provide seed money to build and/or expand upon supports that students and their families need outside the classroom to achieve academic success. Our local Operating Committee and Community Leadership Council, as well as smaller working groups will decide what is needed and local service providers will provide the supports. In other communities, tutoring, after-school programs, summer programs, medical care, counseling and legal help have been provided.

Say Yes will also invest in the technology to help educators and parents gauge students’ progress toward college readiness and keep them on track. It will also fund a small coordinating staff in Guilford County.

Who will determine what supports would be needed in Guilford County?

Parent, school, government, non-profit and community leaders will be responsible for making key funding and operational decisions. This will be done through a governance structure that will include a community leadership council, an operating committee and several working groups.

What other steps will help ensure student success?

Say Yes will work with GCS leadership to make sure that students are on the academic pathway to postsecondary completion. Following a financial analysis of GCS, Say Yes will make recommendations about how to invest existing funds to achieve goals in the school system’s strategic plan and yield stronger postsecondary outcomes.

Leadership, Organizing and Getting Involved

Who is leading this effort?

A local Planning Team with broad representation from across the county has been working with Say Yes to Education during our phase as a finalist.

Working groups that include Planning Group members and others from the community are addressing several key areas that are vital to making Say Yes work in our community. During the exploratory phase, those groups have been  focused on fundraising and communications, as well as on developing memoranda of agreement for key partners and preparing a kind of inventory or catalogue of all the services currently targeted at children and their families.

Soon, a new governance structure that includes a local Community Leadership Council, Operating Committee and Scholarship Board will be put in place to lead the effort. A small local coordinating staff will also be hired.

How can I help?

We need you to get involved and help spread the word! If you’d like to become a member of a working group, please send an email to guilford@sayyestoeducation.org. If your faith community, civic group, business or other organization wants to learn about Say Yes, we would be happy to provide a speaker. If you love public speaking, join the speaker’s bureau.

Helping every child get ready for high school and college success starts right here, right now. There are lots of ways for you to volunteer in our schools. Check the Guilford County Schools website for details.

Contact Us

Are you inspired by the goals and approach of Say Yes Guilford? We invite you to reach out to learn more about how you can get involved.