Category: News

$1,000,000 KeyBank Foundation Investment Helps Say Yes Cleveland Provide Tuition Scholarships for Generations of Students 

Say Yes Cleveland

April 28, 2024

A $1 million investment by the KeyBank Foundation will help Say Yes Cleveland further its mission of providing tuition scholarships to all eligible students for the next quarter-century. This grant is part of KeyBank’s commitment to invest $40 billion in the communities it serves and also part of Key’s $11 million aggregate commitment to support Say Yes.  

Say Yes Cleveland launched in January 2019. Its mission is to partner with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to improve Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods, and workforce over the coming generations by addressing postsecondary affordability. Say Yes Cleveland makes a tuition scholarship available to every eligible CMSD or partnering charter high school graduate to attend a public four-year or two-year institution or accredited training program. 

“We are big believers in the transformative and life-changing opportunities Say Yes provides to every CMSD or partnering charter high school graduate in Cleveland,” said KeyBank Cleveland Market President Kelly Lamirand. “As Cleveland’s hometown bank, we are thrilled that this investment will empower and support students here for many, many years by eliminating the burden of paying for college or trade school tuition, helping students and families build generational wealth.” 

“We’re so grateful to the KeyBank Foundation for their generous, continued support,” said Say Yes Cleveland Executive Director Diane Downing. “The KeyBank Foundation made one of the very first major donations to the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Fund before we launched in 2019. Their early leadership and commitment inspired other substantial contributions and helped us provide a guarantee to students and families that our scholarships will still be available many years from now.”   

The Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund is dedicated to removing financial obstacles to college education for eligible students in the CMSD and partner charter high schools residing in Cleveland and attending a CMSD or partner charter high school from 9th grade to graduation. It provides tuition scholarships, covering tuition and fees at participating colleges and universities, ensuring access for CMSD students. The program pledges to support students until at least 2044, relying on contributions from local foundations, businesses, and individuals. It addresses educational disparities, granting equal opportunities to students of all economic backgrounds, instilling hope in parents, and empowering the Cleveland community to strengthen its educational foundation. 

The Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund strategically invests in students and the community’s future. These scholarships foster equal opportunities, enabling students to excel and enrich our community. 

  • Enhanced College Accessibility: The fund ensures that every CMSD student can afford higher education, regardless of their family’s finances. 
  • Increased College Enrollment: Significantly boosts CMSD students’ college enrollment, broadening their future prospects. 
  • Closing Socioeconomic Disparities: The fund narrows the achievement gap among students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, fostering a fairer educational environment. 
  • Fostering a Highly Skilled Workforce: By facilitating higher education access, it contributes to a skilled and educated workforce in Cleveland, enhancing the city’s economic potential. 
  • Economic Attraction and Retention: The scholarship fund’s presence attracts and retains businesses in Cleveland, demonstrating the city’s commitment to cultivating a well-educated, skilled workforce, benefiting both students and the community. 

Since 2019, more than 3,000 Cleveland Metropolitan School District graduates have enrolled in college or career training through a Say Yes Cleveland, and as of December 2023, 298 Say Yes Cleveland scholars have earned their postsecondary degree. Nearly $9 million has been paid out in tuition by the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund, which has raised more than $100 million for has been raised locally from the private sector for 25-years of college and career training scholarships for every eligible graduate.  

Since 2017, KeyBank has followed through on community commitments totaling nearly $2 billion in Northeast Ohio supporting affordable housing and community development projects; small business and home lending to low-to-moderate income individuals and communities; and transformative philanthropy.  

ABOUT KEYBANK 

KeyBank’s roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyCorp is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $188 billion at December 31, 2023. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,200 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit https://www.key.com/. KeyBank is Member FDIC. 

KEYBANK CONTACT:
Matthew Pitts
Regional Communications Manager
716-270-4243 (work)
716-903-8468 (mobile)
[email protected]

ABOUT SAY YES CLEVELAND 

Say Yes Cleveland is a local organization that provides two big things for Cleveland students: support services for students in CMSD and partner charter schools from PreK through graduation and college or career training tuition scholarships for all eligible scholars after graduation from a CMSD or partner charter high school. By emphasizing the necessity of support services from PreK through high school graduation, the Say Yes program aims to help students overcome the barriers that poverty often puts before them, so they can stay on track to success and be prepared to take the full advantage of the Say Yes scholarship waiting for them after high school graduation. Say Yes Cleveland was launched in 2019 by local convening organizations, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Foundation, College Now Greater Cleveland and United Way of Greater Cleveland. For more information, visit SayYesCleveland.org.   


SAY YES CLEVELAND CONTACT
Jon Benedict
Director of Communications
216-409-6160 (work)
[email protected]

Say Yes Cleveland Alumna Spotlight: Meet Meiyah Hill!

Say Yes Cleveland

How has the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship impacted your ability to complete your college education? Along with a plethora of scholarships during my time at the illustrious Central State University, the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship helped me graduate and stay debt-free. I am a proud HBCU graduate!

What advice would you give to other Say Yes Cleveland scholars? Value your education! As a third-generation community college graduate and first-generation university graduate, I urge all Say Yes Cleveland students to always remember your “why,” be ultra-ambitious, and earn as many scholarships as possible to stay debt-free. That’s how you win. Represent our city at your institutions and everywhere you go. Whether you’re a student at a university, college, trade or vocational school, value your skills. Never stop learning new things. Learning is definitely a lifelong process. As a Gen Z girl, I learn new things on TikTok every day!

What was your major in college, and what were you passionate about learning? My major at Central State University was English (Pre-Law)! I was passionate about learning how to become a better writer. In my program, we analyzed different forms and genres of literature, developed our critical thinking skills through classroom discussions and assignments, and learned about the impact of intersectionality and social identities within literature. Being successful in law school and beyond requires stellar writing and critical thinking skills!


What are your plans for the future? I am currently finishing my first year as a master’s student at the University of Dayton, where I am studying Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA). I serve as the Graduate Assistant Career Advisor in UD Career Services, which gives me a full-tuition scholarship and free housing in return for working for UD. I plan on applying to law school this year, with my top choices being Cleveland State University College of Law and University of Cincinnati College of Law. I plan to start law school in Fall 2025. This summer, I will be virtually interning for Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions and Cleveland State University’s Center for Campus Engagement (in-person). Professionally, I want to be a student affairs practitioner and/or General Counsel for an HBCU one day. I would like to join a Black Greek Letter sorority at the graduate level in the near future. I am interested in possibly earning a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration or Educational Leadership later on in life.


Is there anyone or program who contributed to your success? I would first like to thank God and the Ancestors for always guiding me through my educational endeavors. Of course, my family has been a tremendous support throughout my educational and professional journeys. They are my biggest cheerleaders! I would also like to thank my (forever) HS principal and fellow Centralian Mrs. Tianna Ferguson for influencing my decisions surrounding High Tech Academy and attending my beloved CSU. Lastly, I would like to thank Say Yes Cleveland, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. for contributing to my success through scholarships and developmental support. I have plenty of mentors and supporters in AKA who have helped me throughout my journey in higher education and life (including Mrs. Ferguson). Thank you all!

Anything else you’d like to share? I am so blessed to be where I am in life. Being a 21-year-old Black woman with (almost) 3 degrees is no easy venture. It has truly taken a village for me to be successful in this thing called life. I am far from done with my education and I can’t wait to see all my hard work continue coming to fruition one day.

Oh yeah, HAY HOUSE FOR LIFE!! Go Hornets!

Say Yes Cleveland adds 2024 Summer Tuition Scholarships

Say Yes Cleveland

April 9, 2024

Say Yes Cleveland is excited to announce a new, expanded opportunity for tuition scholarships. For summer 2024, any Say Yes-eligible student attending a Say Yes-eligible postsecondary institution may be eligible to receive tuition funding for up to eight (8) credit hours, or $4,200, during summer term. 

For Say Yes scholars enrolled in a public Ohio institution: Say Yes summer tuition scholarship funding is available for up to eight (8) credit hours and is awarded after federal and state aid has been applied.

For Say Yes scholars enrolled in a private Say Yes partner institution: Say Yes scholars at private institutions may be eligible to receive tuition funding for summer courses, with a maximum award amount of $4,200.

Any tuition costs above and beyond eight credit hours (public schools) or $4,200 (private schools) are still the responsibility of the student. No costs beyond tuition are eligible for this summer award, including fees, books, room, board, or any other expenses.

All students must continue to meet all Say Yes eligibility requirements to receive Summer 2024 funding.

Any scholars interested in receiving summer tuition scholarship funding should, as soon as possible, contact the Say Yes Scholarship Hotline via email ([email protected]) or by phone (216.454.5400) to let us know if you are enrolled in or planning to enroll for the Summer 2024 term.  You may also log into your Say Yes portal & update your Summer 2024 enrollment plans: Say Yes Scholarship Portal.

If you have any questions, please contact us (Elton and Jason) at 216.454.5400 or [email protected]

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Charles Ausbrook

Say Yes Cleveland

March 14, 2024

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape.

Today, we hear from on Charles Ausbrook, a Family Support Specialist at Valley View Boys’ Leadership Academy. Below, Charles shares his valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

While I am not a trained social worker, I have had the opportunity to work with many throughout my career in education. Social workers play a crucial role in supporting families and their children’s academic success. They possess the expertise to identify and address barriers that hinder a child’s education. This includes connecting families to essential services and programs tailored to their specific needs.

Having social workers in schools readily available means extra support for students, families, and staff. Teachers primarily devote their time to curriculum development and preparing students for assessments. Social workers, on the other hand, specialize in addressing the unique needs of families and the surrounding community.

In today’s educational landscape, the responsibility of addressing student needs has broadened. Staff members, from teachers to administrators and program providers, often take on aspects traditionally associated with the social worker role. This may include tasks such as referring students to mental health services or providing clothing assistance. Through this collaborative approach, social workers, educators, and other support staff work together to empower families and propel students towards graduation and future success.

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Joyce Freeman

Say Yes Cleveland

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape. Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting the inspiring work of our very own Say Yes Cleveland Social Workers.

Today, we turn the spotlight on Joyce Freeman, a Licensed Social Worker and Family Support Specialist at Horizon Science Academy. Below, Joyce shares her valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

What significance does Social Work Month hold for you?

Social worker month holds a great significance to me in my life. I have always wanted to be a social worker after watching women in my family work in this field. They have shown me great strength and dedication that they hold toward the field. As a Social worker sometimes, you have to put your own beliefs to the side and move in the best interest of vulnerable clients. Social workers advocate for those who are unable or do not know how to access the resources they need. I have found being a social worker to be very rewarding, and social work makes this world a better place.

In what ways do social workers play a crucial role in the success of students and schools?

I currently work at a charter school and my role as a Social Worker plays a very crucial role in the success of my school. While working at a charter school some of the resources that are offered to public schools are not offered to charter school students. So as a Social worker I have to search for resources and services that are available for my students. There are minimal needs that my student need however they still need social, emotional and educational support.

How can the community create a more empowering and supportive environment for social workers?

The community needs to be truly educated on why social workers are important and to also understand what we do. Social workers are multifaceted and wear many hats. Once the community understands what we do they would show more appreciation and gratitude towards having a social worker involved in their lives.

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Cassandra Klein

Say Yes Cleveland

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape. Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting the inspiring work of our very own Say Yes Cleveland Social Workers.

Today, we turn the spotlight on Cassandra Klein, a Licensed Social Worker and Family Support Specialist at Memorial. Below, Cassandra shares her valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

What significance does Social Work Month hold for you?

Social work month matters to me because it helps bring awareness to the profession and highlights the amazing work that is done daily by thousands of social workers. It’s a time to remember and honor those who have fought and continue to fight to provide support and empower vulnerable populations. This year the theme is “Empowering Social Workers”, which brings awareness to how important it is to not only make sure the people we support are empowered but to also equip ourselves and make sure we are supported, and our profession is properly recognized. This month also reminds us that our work is never done, and we must continue to work to address social injustice.

In what ways do social workers play a crucial role in the success of students and schools?

Social workers are instrumental in schools because it allows them the ability to work closely with students and their families for multiple years. This allows for strong relationships to be built between the social worker, students and their families. When students and their families feel supported, they are more likely to engage with the social worker and the school. Having the professional support of a social worker may mean the difference between staying in school or dropping out, managing depression or letting it overwhelm the student, a family having food or going hungry, or a student being able to come to school with clean clothes and the resources they need. Social workers are just one of many integral parts working together to make sure the student and their family are supported.

How can the community create a more empowering and supportive environment for social workers?

Individuals can support social workers by being understanding and collaborating to help solve a problem. I have received a lot of help and support from my administration, my co-workers and my community. Supporting a social worker can be as simple as sharing resources that can be passed onto others who may be in need of them. One of my goals at the school is to make sure the students and their families are supported so that education can placed at the top of their priority list. This is impossible if the family is worried about food, a place to sleep at night, or essential items that may be needed. Being able to help and support others through tough times is vital. At some point, most people need a little help and I’m glad I can be there for our students and their families.

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Anthony Hollins 

Say Yes Cleveland

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape. Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting the inspiring work of our very own Say Yes Cleveland Social Workers.

Today, we turn the spotlight on Anthony Hollins, a Family Support Specialist and Team Lead at Charles Dickens. Below, Anthony shares her valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

In what ways do social workers play a crucial role in the success of students and schools?

Social workers are essential in schools because we help create safe spaces for students to thrive. We work closely with educators, supporting them in areas they may not reach. By linking families to resources, teaching prevention, and providing mental health support, we help students feel better, so they can do better in school.

What significance does Social Work Month hold for you?

Social Work Month is a great time for raising awareness about the diverse scope of our profession. It’s an opportunity to showcase that social workers aren’t confined to one setting but are instrumental in schools, hospitals, policymaking, and beyond. By highlighting the various roles and impact we have, we can educate others about the wide-reaching scope of social work and the vital contributions we consistently are making in society.

How can the community create a more empowering and supportive environment for social workers?

Supporting social workers involves respecting the time and effort we’ve invested in our education and professional development as health professionals. It’s crucial to honor our contributions to society and compensate our work equitably, similar to other healthcare professions. Recognizing the diversity of specialties within social work and understanding that we are skilled professionals can help combat the undervaluation often associated with our field. By acknowledging the importance of our role in promoting mental and emotional well-being, we can improve support for social workers and ensure that our contributions are properly recognized and respected.

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Lekisha Rogers

Say Yes Cleveland

March 4, 2024

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape. Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting the inspiring work of our very own Say Yes Cleveland Social Workers.

This week, we turn the spotlight on Lekisha Rogers, a Family Support Specialist and Team Lead at Joseph Gallagher School. Below, Lekisha shares her valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

What significance does Social Work Month hold for you?

Social Work Month holds profound significance for me; it highlights the invaluable contributions of social workers in enhancing the well-being of individuals and communities. As someone deeply entrenched in social work, I recognize the pivotal role social workers play in advocating for social justice, providing essential support services, and empowering vulnerable populations. Social Work Month serves as a beacon, reminding us to honor and celebrate the dedication, compassion, and resilience of social workers who tirelessly strive to create a more equitable and inclusive society.

In what ways do social workers play a crucial role in the success of students and schools?

Within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and its partnering charters, social workers serve as linchpins in fostering a nurturing and conducive learning environment for students. They offer vital assistance to students facing various socio-economic challenges, including poverty, homelessness, and trauma. By providing counseling, advocacy, and resource coordination, social workers play a pivotal role in addressing barriers to academic success and promoting holistic development among students. Moreover, they collaborate closely with teachers, administrators, families, and community organizations to implement targeted interventions and support systems, ensuring that every student receives the personalized care and support they need to thrive academically and emotionally.

How can the community create a more empowering and supportive environment for social workers?

Fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and inclusivity within the community can help create a supportive environment where social workers can effectively carry out their mission of serving those in need. By recognizing the importance of social work and actively engaging in efforts to support social workers, individuals can contribute to building a brighter future for our youth and communities.

Social Work Month 2024 Spotlight: Shauna Scott-Rose

Say Yes Cleveland

March is Social Work Month, and the theme this year is “Empowering Social Workers.” Here at Say Yes Cleveland, we’re committed to recognizing the incredible impact social workers have on our community, especially within the educational landscape. Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting the inspiring work of our very own Say Yes Cleveland Social Workers.

This week, we turn the spotlight on Shauna Scott-Rose, a Family Support Specialist and Team Lead at East Tech High School. Below, Shauna shares her valuable insights on empowering social workers and the ways they, in turn, empower the communities they serve.

What significance does Social Work Month hold for you?

Social Work Month holds a special place in our hearts because it’s a time to celebrate the tireless dedication we show and the immeasurable impact we make on countless lives. It’s a reminder of the liberating and uplifting nature of our work.

In what ways do social workers play a crucial role in the success of students and schools?

Social workers play a critical role in schools, where their support is essential for students’ well-being. Teachers, despite their best efforts, often lack the time and resources to provide the specialized social support students may need. That’s why it’s crucial to have comprehensive support systems in place, addressing the social, emotional, academic, and physical needs of our students.

How can the community create a more empowering and supportive environment for social workers?

Individuals can play a vital role in supporting social workers by expressing their sincere gratitude and appreciation. A simple “thank you” can truly make a difference. Furthermore, offering ongoing support, advocacy, and a spirit of inclusivity goes a long way in creating a positive and empowering environment for social workers to thrive.

New Website and Brand Released on SayYesCleveland.org

Say Yes Cleveland

November 28, 2022

Say Yes Cleveland is excited to share that SayYesCleveland.org has been refreshed with new content and materials. The revamped layout provides a crisp, white background with modern branding, vibrant colors, and an easier method for students and families to find the information they need to obtain scholarship information and support.

The new website is meant to be more helpful than ever before with easy-to-use tools including the My College Checklist, which helps students plan out their post-secondary plans, as well as the Find A School tool, which helps them locate colleges and universities, and the updated Scholarship Guidebook, designed to answer questions individuals might have about using the Say Yes scholarship toward tuition at a college or career training program after high school graduation.

The new website, designed by Nesnadny + Schwartz with generous support from the George Gund Foundation, took a year to develop with the assistance of a steering committee that included leadership and critical input from Say Yes Cleveland, College Now of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator. Local artists such as Lisa Kessler, McKinley Wiley, and Amber C. Ford contributed artwork and photography.

“We’re extremely excited to introduce our new website to the community, in particular our students and their families,” said Jon Benedict, Say Yes Cleveland’s Director of Communications. “Our goal has been to make SayYesCleveland.org, first and foremost, a tool that helps students and their families navigate the college-going process and connect to all the supports that Say Yes Cleveland offers. We’re so grateful to our many great partners, and especially the support of the Gund Foundation, for making this vision a reality.”

In addition, the website provides stakeholders and community members with streamlined access to the most recent Say Yes Cleveland news, impact reports, partnerships, donation/mentoring opportunities, and more.

In Summer of 2022, Say Yes Cleveland Family Support Specialists (FSS) extended into all 104 CMSD and partner charter schools. As a result of this expansion, the website now provides students and families with access to online support outside of school hours, in addition to on-site assistance during the school day.

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