Creating a supportive environment where students can flourish
“Say Yes Buffalo gives students a chance to dream big,” said Tyler Carpenter, a neuro-nurse at Buffalo General Hospital and a Say Yes Buffalo Scholar. Tyler graduated from City Honors in 2014, and a Say Yes Buffalo scholarship helped her attend SUNY Erie Community College and Trocaire College, where she graduated with her nursing degree in 2021.
Tyler is one of more than 2,000 students who have earned degrees with the support of the Say Yes Buffalo scholarships since its launch in December 2011. At that time, the Community Foundation played a key leadership role in bringing the collaborative effort to Buffalo. Today, the story of Say Yes Buffalo is one that spans more than a decade, with its earliest scholars now out of college, into their careers and contributing to our region’s economic growth.
In 2012, the graduation rate of Buffalo Public Schools students was a mere 49 percent. With Say Yes Buffalo’s promise to provide scholarships to eligible graduates of Buffalo public and charter schools, as of 2020, the district’s rate had climbed 27 percentage points to 76 percent. Today, students can use those scholarships to attend all SUNY/CUNY schools and more than 100 private colleges and universities across the country.
To ensure the scholarships are available forever, Say Yes Buffalo is currently working toward a goal of raising $100 million for its endowment at the Community Foundation. Over $25 million has been raised to date and all donations to the endowment are eligible for a match.
Since its inception, Say Yes Buffalo has expanded its reach to support children as young as preschoolers with services including preventive supports, legal clinics, healthcare and summer camps. It also now extends support to college students, including mentoring, mental healthcare, on-campus success counselors and paid internships. “Say Yes helped me with resume building and interview skills, and sometimes just provided a listening ear,” said Tyler. “It also opened my eyes to the different routes I could take to get to where I wanted to go.”
Programming for high school students will soon include apprenticeships in high-demand career pathways with large local employers across the IT, Business Operations and Advanced Manufacturing sectors.
With hundreds of partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Say Yes Buffalo is committed to strengthening the Western New York economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce.
Tyler noted, “It is inspiring to see how many students are able to fulfill their dreams because of Say Yes Buffalo.”
In 2022, Say Yes Buffalo launched CareerWise Greater Buffalo, a strategy of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable’s Youth Employment Coalition designed to provide career pathways for youth ages 16 to 24 that lead to family-sustaining incomes. Click here to read more about how these pathways are created through modern youth apprenticeships.
We continue to help many more students attain post-secondary education as a partner, supporter and advocate of Say Yes Buffalo.