Cleveland’s Path

Led by six convening partners, Cleveland recognized the game-changing potential of Say Yes to Education several years ago. In 2019, through hard work by many in the community, Say Yes Cleveland became reality, changing lives for generations to come.

How Cleveland Became a Say Yes Chapter

Cleveland’s path to Say Yes began in 2015. An exploratory group led by six partners – City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Foundation, College Now Greater Cleveland and United Way of Greater Cleveland – began making the case Cleveland would be a good fit for Say Yes.

By leveraging the ongoing success of the Cleveland Plan, the region’s strong history of collaboration as demonstrated by innovative and committed public sector leaders, and an organized and robust philanthropic and nonprofit sector, Cleveland committed to bringing Say Yes to Cleveland to enhance the lives of all our residents.

In May 2017, Say Yes to Education announced that a consortium of public and private groups in Cleveland had satisfied the earliest milestones on the extensive path to potentially becoming a Say Yes chapter. In January 2019, Cleveland had met the pre-launch requirements and was announced as the fourth community-wide chapter of Say Yes to Education.

Why Cleveland Said Yes to Education

The goals of the Say Yes Cleveland are to increase education levels of Cleveland residents; boost and retain population in the city of Cleveland; improve college access for middle- and low-income families in Cleveland; and spur economic growth and expansion in the region.

Progress has been achieved in Cleveland but work remains to clear the runway for the post-secondary education success of our students.

  • More students are graduating from CMSD (52.2% in 2010 vs. 74.6% in 2018.)
  • Yet the number of students attending college within one year of high school graduation is 16 percentage points lower today than in 2011.

Gone are the days when workers, armed with a high school diploma, could support their families through shift work in a factory, steel mill or retail establishment.

  • Almost two-thirds of Ohio jobs will require a postsecondary credential by 2020. Yet only 46% of Cleveland residents have completed at least some college. Only 16.3% have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • As a state, Ohio ranks 45th in public college affordability, a dubious distinction that doesn’t seem likely to change soon.

It’s also key to recognize where our region stands today. Our local public- and private-sector leaders have long committed to lifting the region through innovation. We’re making significant strides to improve the educational path for Cleveland children. We have a philanthropic legacy that demonstrates our collective desire to make our community better.

Cleveland is uniquely positioned to use the Say Yes to Education approach to take our work further – to make a greater and lasting difference in the lives of more students and their families and to have an exponential impact on the community and economy.