stories say yesWhat if an entire community came together to ensure that each of its children had the opportunity—and the support—to go to college? That’s the bold promise of Say Yes to Education. With its 25-year track record of success throughout the U.S., Say Yes is an exceptionally appealing resource for communities. So when the opportunity arose in 2011 for Buffalo to be considered, leaders from the Oishei Foundation stepped up early on to help make sure it happened.

“It’s an extremely competitive process,” says David Rust, Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo. “Oishei was very active at the start and has remained so, offering leadership as well as significant scholarship funding. Every penny of Oishei funding goes directly into the scholarship fund. This absolutely changes lives—and it does it at scale.”

Launched in 2012, the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is truly a community collaboration—a coalition of individuals and organizations, with decision makers at the highest levels. All are dedicated to strengthening the city’s public school system and increasing high school and postsecondary graduation rates.

“The collaborative governance structure is really the breakthrough component of Say Yes Buffalo,” notes David. “It guides all of our efforts and helps us effectively report on progress to the public at large.“

stories say yes2The collaboration also addresses a number of additional areas that might affect academic success—offering family support specialists, social services, mental health support, even legal services. Since 2012, 3,000 Buffalo students have received Say Yes support through workshops, mentoring, or scholarships.

Buffalo is only the second city-wide Say Yes chapter, and “really the fullest example of making it work,” says David. “We’re re-imagining public education. By investing in young people and building our intellectual infrastructure, we’ll help make the city’s renaissance a renaissance for all.”