Say Yes to Education initiative ramps up in Guilford County
By Katie Arcieri
In fall 2013, a national nonprofit called Say Yes to Education began searching for an area outside the Northeast to implement its community-wide strategy for providing college tuition funding for high school graduates. Guilford County was selected as a finalist after an extensive search by Say Yes that identified 100 potential communities across the country.
And after raising $28 million toward a local college scholarship endowment that was required in order to be considered, Guilford County officially became the next Say Yes community in September, with throngs of local students, politicians and business leaders gathering for the announcement at Ragsdale High School. Other Say Yes communities are located in N.Y. communities such as Buffalo, N.Y.
Businesses, families and foundations have so far contributed $34.4 million toward a $70 million endowment that will fund the scholarships. Guilford County officials will continue fundraising efforts in 2016.
Here’s how Say Yes will work: Tuition scholarships will be available to every student who graduates from Guilford County Schools. County students accepted to and enrolled in a one-, two-, or four-year degree public university or certificate program would be provided with scholarship funding from the local endowment to cover tuition that isn’t covered by other grants and scholarships. And about 100 private colleges and universities across the country will cover tuition that isn’t covered by other grants and scholarships to county students who are accepted into those private schools and whose families earn less than $75,000.
Say Yes officials said they chose Guilford because of strong leadership within the county’s school system, the openness of community partners and the high percentage of county public school students from low-income backgrounds.
After the official announcement in September, the group began mobilizing efforts to put together an operating committee, a community leadership council and a board that would govern the local scholarship endowment.
Momentum kept building when Greensboro assistant manager Mary Vigue was named the first-ever executive director of the local Say Yes chapter in October. Her responsibilities include managing, coordinating and overseeing the operations of Say Yes Guilford, which is in the process of setting up office locations in both Greensboro and High Point and a local work force that could range between 10 and 20 members.
The Triad offices of Say Yes will be located within the Central Library, 219 N. Church St., in downtown Greensboro as well as a Guilford County office building at 325 Russell Ave. in High Point.
Katie Arcieri covers manufacturing, transportation/logistics, aviation, textiles, tobacco and furniture. Contact her at 336-370-2913.