Skip to content


Say Yes Syracuse provides comprehensive support to Syracuse City School District and Syracuse Charter School students to eliminate predictable barriers to academic achievement. Those efforts culminate with access to full-tuition scholarships from a range of over 100 public and private college and university partners for eligible students to attend. Say Yes Syracuse helps eligible students and their families prepare for college and afford its expense, setting our next generation up for a successful future with financial independence.

The program seeks to develop the full potential of every student, particularly those from under-resourced neighborhoods. In the long run, Say Yes believes its efforts will have a positive impact on the local economy by arming local students with a post-secondary degree or certificate — and the qualifications to excel in a range of occupations.

Say Yes Syracuse is a landmark collaboration that brings together the Syracuse City School District, Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College, colleges and universities across the country, the Central New York Community Foundation, Syracuse Teachers’ Association, Syracuse Association of Administrators and Supervisors, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, American Institutes for Research, the national Say Yes to Education organization and a diverse group of Syracuse area corporate, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations.

Wraparound Support

Say Yes Syracuse partners provide wraparound supports to address the barriers that can make it more difficult for Syracuse City School District and Syracuse Charter School students to achieve academic success.

Say Yes partners with the Syracuse City School District, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, the Volunteer Lawyer Project and the Onondaga County Bar Association, to offer several support programs that provide students and their families with more resources and support.

Legal Support

Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Onondaga County Bar Association are available during the academic school year to assist families with legal issues that may interfere with their child’s ability to succeed in school. Both organizations work to provide families with helpful resources, legal advice about non-criminal issues, or referrals to other agencies that can help.

Areas of support include:

  • Child Support
  • Child Custody
  • Guardianship
  • Landlord/Housing
  • Public Benefits (social security, food stamps, etc.)
  • Bankruptcy & Debt
  • Immigration
  • Divorce
  • Parental Rights & Liability
  • Foster Care
  • Domestic Violence

If you are looking for more information, you may learn more here.

Family Services

Promise Zone is a school-based mental health program that matches students’ emotional and behavioral needs with effective, targeted interventions designed to develop skills and increase engagement in instructional time through a multi-tiered system of support. Each elementary, middle and high school in the Syracuse City School District has a team to support students with emotional or behavioral challenges. This program is offered through Coordinated Care Services Inc., on behalf of Onondaga County, Department of Children and Family Services and the Division of School Based Initiatives.

By centering youth and family voice and choice, Promise Zone promotes social, emotional and academic achievement through student engagement, skill-development, social-emotional wellness, restorative practices, inclusion, and equity.

Promise Zone can help with the following:

  • Improve children’s behavior, attendance, and grades at school
  • Resolve children’s behavior issues at home
  • Access community resources and navigating community systems
  • Advocate and assist developing effective working relationships with school staff
  • Work to address other family issues that may be impacting, or have the potential to impact, school success

If you are looking for more information, you may learn more here.


Say Yes to Education was created in 1987 when its founder, George Weiss, promised 112 sixth-graders living in one of Philadelphia’s most under-resourced neighborhoods that if they could persevere to high school graduation, he would pay for their college education. Launched in 2008, Say Yes Syracuse represents the organization’s first effort to expand the spirit of Mr. Weiss’ original idea to a full community.

Weiss’ inspiration for the Say Yes to Education program came when he was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and his fraternity hosted a Christmas party for 12 inner-city children. Nineteen years old at the time, Mr. Weiss struck up a friendship with the 12-year-olds, playing basketball and pool with them and listening to stories about their lives. Moved by their courage and resilience, he stayed in touch with all of them.

When he returned to Penn seven years later for homecoming, he finally had enough money to take them out to lunch. At the restaurant, he learned that all 12 had graduated from high school. One of the young men told him, “We could not have dropped out and looked you straight in the eye.” Inspired by these words, Mr. Weiss made a promise to himself that day to contribute to making a difference in the lives of children facing overwhelming obstacles.

After building a successful career, Mr. Weiss fulfilled his promise. Because he had learned over the years that covering college expenses was not enough to help students successfully complete college, he worked with the Philadelphia district to help limit the barriers that get in the way of classroom participation and ultimately improve student performance, high school graduation rates, high school college matriculation and college completion rates.

For its first two decades, Say Yes to Education worked with cohorts of children across the country, all from low-income and other backgrounds historically underrepresented on the nation’s college and university campuses.

Say Yes Syracuse was piloted in 2008 and kick-started a multi-year endowment building campaign. In January 2011, SRC, Inc. announced a $5 million commitment to the Say Yes Scholarship Endowment Fund. Contributions to the fund were matched dollar-for-dollar for a total of $10 million. Major contributors to the fund included the Central New York Community Foundation, Raymour & Flanigan, M&T Bank, O’Brien & Gere, Lockheed Martin, Say Yes to Education Foundation, American Institutes for Research, Wegman’s, Syracuse University, Syracuse Research Corporation, Ford Foundation, JP Morgan, Chase Bank, Robert Pomfrey, Winnick Family Foundation, First Niagara Bank, Bowers and Company and local real estate developer Bob Congel. Smaller donors included Citizen’s and Key Bank, Bank of America, Rent-A-Car, Hayner Hoyt Corporation, Testone, Marshall and Discenza, LLP, Gilbane Building Company and other public and private sources.

In 2016, with the help of individuals, businesses, and local and state government partners, the fundraising goal for the Say Yes Syracuse Endowment Fund was met, ensuring that the Say Yes Syracuse scholarship promise will continue student into perpetuity.


On July 1, 2020 Say Yes to Education’s chapters became independently governed and administered at the local level. The Central New York Community Foundation assumed the governance of Say Yes to Education scholarships and personnel of the Syracuse Chapter, launching the official Say Yes Syracuse. There are now a total of four chapters including Say Yes Buffalo, Say Yes Cleveland, and Shift_Ed (Shift Education) in Greensboro NC.


We are thankful to the Syracuse businesses, foundations, and individuals who believe our students and our community are best served when we all work together. This group includes civic, corporate, community, foundation, nonprofit and education partners, and we greatly appreciate your support and collaboration.

Say Yes Syracuse is grateful to Syracuse University, the former Say Yes to Education, Inc., the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, the Syracuse Teachers Association, multiple community-based organizations, the Syracuse City School District and various local businesses and foundations for their partnership to provide academic, social/emotional, health and wellness, and financial assistance to historically marginalized youth in Syracuse.

Please see below for a list of our Lead Donors, whose generous investments will pay off for decades to come:

  • American Institutes for Research
  • Bank of America
  • Bowers and Company
  • Central New York Community Foundation
  • Chase Bank
  • Citizen’s and Key Bank
  • First Niagara Bank
  • Ford Foundation
  • Gilbane Building Company
  • Hayner Hoyt Corporation
  • JP Morgan
  • Lockheed Martin
  • M&T Bank
  • Marshall and Discenza, LLP
  • O’Brien & Gere
  • Raymour & Flanigan
  • Real estate developer Bob Congel
  • Rent-A-Car
  • Robert Pomfrey
  • Say Yes to Education Foundation
  • Syracuse Accounting firm Testone
  • Syracuse Research Corporation
  • Syracuse University
  • The Central New York Community Foundation
  • Wegman’s
  • Winnick Family Foundation
  • Xerox Corporation

Let’s Talk!

Higher education is accessible without the financial stress and Say Yes Syracuse is here to back your dreams and make them happen. Your journey to success starts here. Have questions? Set up an appointment to meet with us!

Set Up an Appointment

Stay Up to Date

Are you inspired by the goals and approach of Say Yes Syracuse and want to stay updated with our latest news and announcements? We invite you to subscribe to our mailing list to be informed of future Say Yes Syracuse events and scholarship information.

Text SAYYES to 315-562-7154 to join our text list or complete the form at the link below to subscribe to our mailing list.

Subscribe Now