Say Yes Cleveland is excited and grateful to welcome new contributions awarded by The George Gund Foundation’s board of trustees in honor of retiring Foundation president, David Abbott. The two new contributions benefiting Say Yes Cleveland scholars are:

A $1.5 million contribution to the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Fund. This contribution brings the total funding secured in donations and pledges to nearly $95 million, approximately 76 percent of the $125 million needed to guarantee tuition scholarships to all eligible students for the next quarter-century.

A $5 million grant that will establish a Living Learning Community for Say Yes Cleveland scholarship recipients at Cleveland State University. This grant will fund room and board for four cohorts of 30 students apiece, with all costs covered for the first two years and half room and board covered the second two years.

Diane Downing, executive director of Say Yes Cleveland, said:

“There are few organizations as critical to the existence of Say Yes Cleveland as The George Gund Foundation, and few people as integral to our work as Dave Abbott. Dave and the Gund Foundation not only helped lay out the strategic framework on which Say Yes is built, but they were also early and historically generous contributors to the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund. That’s what makes these new donations made in Dave’s honor so unexpected, meaningful, and deeply appreciated.”

David Abbott, president of The George Gund Foundation, said: “From our Foundation’s first investment in Say Yes Cleveland back in 2018, we have viewed it as a long-term investment in the young people of Cleveland. We are hopeful that our community can close the $125 million fundraising goal in these next two years, and then turn its attention beyond the tuition scholarship to the whole cost of postsecondary attendance. Our grant to the Living Learning Community at CSU is intended to jump start that effort, so that more students have an opportunity to live on a college campus, surrounded by supports that help them through graduation.”

“We do think these grants will create renewed interest in contributing to the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Fund and help us get closer to meeting our $125 million goal,” added Ms. Downing. “We are already seeing significant, tangible results. Last year, nearly 1,200 Cleveland students from CMSD’s classes of 2019 and 2020 enrolled in college or career training through the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship program. We have paid out more than $3 million in scholarships already, and we are eager to pay out much more in the future. We want every student in Cleveland’s schools, (and their parents) to grow up with the certain knowledge that a Say Yes scholarship is waiting for them after high school graduation. But to ensure that this commitment is guaranteed for at least the next two generations of students, we must achieve our fundraising goal.”