Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Removing Barriers to Success

Say Yes Buffalo

From the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo's 2015 Annual Report

Dionna and her son, Tyrell, with Tyrell’s Family Support Specialist, Dan Cross-Viola

“After struggling with behavioral and attendance issues, our Family Support Specialist at school connected with Tyrell in a way no one had before. He began working with a tutor, a counselor and joined the football team and it all just started getting better and better,” said Dionna, mother of Tyrell who received supports from Say Yes Buffalo.

Identifying any and all opportunities to help a student succeed is the driving force behind Say Yes Buffalo. Its work goes beyond providing a scholarship for post-secondary education. By developing easily accessible, sustainable services for students and families, Say Yes Buffalo and its partners are addressing the barriers preventing students from achieving academic success.

Tyrell is a perfect example of how a Family Support Specialist can help a student reach his or her full potential. Tyrell was suspended frequently and his mother struggled with a solution, so she transferred him to another school. After meeting and establishing a relationship with Tyrell, his Family Support Specialist determined the cause of Tyrell’s behavioral issues–he was bullied as a child. Armed with that knowledge, Tyrell’s Family Support Specialist helped him find a counselor to deal with his anger issues and a tutor to help him catch up academically.
The transformation was remarkable.

“Slowly but surely Tyrell started opening up to me and I really loved that,” said Dionna. “It helped the whole family.”

There are thousands of students just like Tyrell who are benefitting from Say Yes Buffalo support services that were expanded in 2015 by:

► Partnering with Erie County & the Community Foundation to open 15 more mental health clinics in schools, bringing the total to 42;

► Enrolling all 33,000 Buffalo Public School students in the Student Management System to identify intervention needs;

► Starting a mentoring program to help Say Yes scholars transition from high school to college;

► Creating an internship program with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to match Say Yes scholars with paid summer internships at local businesses to help them develop professional skills.

And the results are encouraging:

► The graduation rate for the Buffalo Public Schools Class of 2015 increased to 61 percent, the highest it has been in a decade;

► The number of Buffalo public high school students entering college increased by 9 percentage points.

This is all possible because of generous donors who have committed more than $23 million to fund the scholarships that go hand in hand with critical support services. With a committed team of community donors and partners, we are putting our students on a path to success that will contribute to long-term economic growth for our region.

“I want my children to go to college and be the best they can be. I want them to achieve anything that they put their mind to.”

- Dionna, mother of Buffalo Public School student

Read more stories about our community impact work.


To learn more about our Community Impact Work, please contact us by calling (716) 852-2857, ext. 223.

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