Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- It’s been four years since the National non-profit “Say Yes to Education” launched its landmark collaboration with the Syracuse City School District. On Wednesday, they say the numbers prove its working.
Say Yes released a progress report highlighting some of the program’s success. The number of students graduating from city high schools has risen six percent. Since the fall of 2009, 2,000 students have enrolled in two or four year colleges.
Fifth grade students at McKinley Brighton Elementary are the future class of 2023 – a dream much more realistic now than ever before.
“Growing up I didn’t believe it was probable to be a college student,” said Jaquiel Ash, a Say Yes scholar. “I knew it was possible, but not probable.”
Not only has Say Yes helped kids like Ash go to college, they say it's comprehensive in approach, stretching from kindergarten to high school. One focus area -- ninth grade -- they say is keeping fewer kids from dropping out.
Say Yes founder George Weiss says, “They see the opportunity to go to a two or four year college like the great Syracuse University. This empowers them to strive to greater heights.”
Say Yes is there to offer much of that additional support. College may seem like a long way off to a classroom of fifth graders, but a summer counselor like Ash may be the inspiration they need to dream big.
"If they see that someone who is a little bit more like them made it to such a far position in life, I feel like they would understand that [they] can do it too. You know, the journey isn't so far away, it isn't so hard, it's not so rough, anyone can make it,” explained Ash.
Ash is a 2009 Nottingham graduate and will receive his degree in June from Monroe Community College. He’s planning to transfer to a four year school in the fall.
It’s too early to have any hard data, but there is monitoring in progress. The ultimate goal is college success and they’re looking at a model that’s more of a pre-K through 16 model.