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Say Yes Syracuse Joins Forces with CNY Community Foundation (6/30/2020)

When Say Yes to Education established a Syracuse chapter in 2008 to ensure that all Syracuse City School District (SCSD) students would have the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education, the long-term goal was for the chapter to become independently governed and administered at the local level. We are pleased to report that that day has come. Beginning July 1, the Central New York Community Foundation will assume the governance of Say Yes scholarships and personnel from Say Yes to Education, Inc.

Say Yes Syracuse will continue to offer a fully endowed last-dollar tuition guarantee scholarship to all eligible SCSD students. All wrap-around supports, including family support specialists, mental health clinics and legal services continue unchanged. We are excited to begin this new phase based in local guidance and expertise, which is sure to benefit Syracuse children for generations to come.

More information about Say Yes Syracuse can be found at Ahmeed Turner can be reached at or 315-435-4501.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will this transition impact Say Yes Tuition Scholarships?

The Say Yes Tuition Scholarship program will remain unchanged. SCSD students attending a partner college in the SUNY/CUNY system who do not receive the full cost of tuition from other grants and scholarships are eligible to receive Say Yes funding toward the remaining balance of their tuition. This tuition scholarship is available to all students meeting eligibility criteria, regardless of family income.

Since inception, the Say Yes Tuition Scholarship program has been funded by an endowment administered by the Central New York Community Foundation. The Say Yes to Education Endowment Fund became fully funded in 2016 thanks to the generous contributions of local individuals, businesses and government partners, meaning that it is calculated to continue the tuition scholarship in its current design for generations.

Will the Higher Education Compact with private colleges remain in place?

Private colleges within Say Yes’ Higher Education Compact will continue to guarantee full tuition to eligible Syracuse City School District students from families with incomes of less than $75,000. The contracts with our private college partners will be sustained through a collaborative effort across all Say Yes local chapters.

Are Say Yes Tuition Scholarships affected by the New York State Excelsior Scholarship?

A student’s eligibility for the New York State Excelsior Scholarship is not included in Say Yes tuition calculations because the Excelsior opportunity is designed to provide ‘last-last’ dollars after all other financial assistance has been applied, including that of Say Yes. This makes students receiving Say Yes tuition assistance ineligible to also receive support from Excelsior.

Will after-school, social and emotional support programs be changed?

None of the programs instituted to serve as surround supports for Say Yes Syracuse students will be affected by this transition. After-school programming has been independently managed by the Syracuse City School District since 2015 and family support services and legal and mental health clinics are funded and administered by Onondaga County and other partners. Say Yes Syracuse does not provide funding, oversight or administrative support to these programs.

Do you expect scholarship eligibility criteria to change? Will neighboring districts become eligible?

No. Eligibility criteria for Say Yes Tuition Scholarship, Choice Award and Opportunity Award grants will remain unchanged. The Say Yes to Education Endowment Fund, from which these scholarships are funded, is designed to provide consistent support toward the cost of SCSD student scholarships for generations. Significant additional funding would be necessary to expand the program’s reach to other districts.

Who do we contact with questions?

Ahmeed Turner will continue his role as Say Yes Syracuse executive director. For additional information, Ahmeed can be reached at or 315-435-4501.