Say Yes to Education adds Washington University as one of its 10 new partners​

Program offers urban youth prospect of free tuition

Washington University in St. Louis is among the 10 newest university partners in Say Yes to Education, the national nonprofit group that helps organize and galvanize entire cities around making higher education accessible and affordable for the children in their communities.

The other institutions that Say Yes to Education announced last week as new partners are: Yale University, MIT, Brown University, Williams College, Smith College, Trinity College, Kenyon College, Muhlenberg College and Northeastern University.

With the addition of its new partner institutions, the Say Yes Compact now has 64 private colleges and universities as members.

In joining the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, the private colleges and universities agree to ensure that the neediest of the students served by the organization — typically those whose annual family income is at or below $75,000 — are eligible, at a minimum, to attend tuition-free, provided they successfully navigate the institution’s regular admission process.

Say Yes students whose family income is above $75,000 and who are enrolled in a Compact institution are eligible to receive annual grants from the organization itself of up to $5,000, in addition to other scholarships for which they may qualify.

The first students eligible to apply under the new partnership agreements are those seeking to enroll in college in fall 2014.

“Washington University is delighted to become a Say Yes Compact partner as we expand our outreach efforts to enroll and support talented students,” said Julie M. Shimabukuro, director of WUSTL’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. “We look forward to getting to know the Say Yes students and to helping them learn more about the broad college opportunities that are available to them here.”

Say Yes’ tuition benefits and other supports (which may include tutoring, after-school services, counseling and legal assistance) are available to the families of nearly 65,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in every public school in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York.

Graduates of those cities’ public high schools are also eligible, regardless of family income, for up to 100 percent of the tuition needed to attend any public, two- or four-year college or university in New York State to which they are accepted.

Local donors — including individuals, families, foundations and businesses — in Syracuse and Buffalo fund the scholarships. The organization expects to expand to additional cities in the coming years.

Say Yes, which has its headquarters in New York City, was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss. For its first 20 years, it offered an array of services — and ultimately full-tuition college scholarships — to smaller groups of public school students.

While Say Yes adopted a citywide approach in 2008, college scholarships are still available to several hundred students in the organization’s earlier chapters in Harlem in New York City, Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn.

In expressing her gratitude to the new members of its Higher Education Compact, Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, president of Say Yes, noted that each institution made available a safety net of academic advising and other mentoring for students from low-income households — including those who may be among the first in their families to attend college — consistent with the mission of the organization.

“It is not enough just to give a student a scholarship, a philosophy we are pleased to see embraced by our new partners, several of whom are led by individuals who were themselves among the first in their families to graduate from college,’’ Schmitt-Carey said. “We thank all the members of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact for standing with us as we seek to ensure that our students can receive a post-secondary education, pay for it and possess the necessary tools to persist through graduation.”

More than 3,000 high school graduates have gone off to college with Say Yes supports since its inception.