Say Yes to Education Announcement
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Christmas came early to kids in Buffalo public schools on Tuesday.
Starting with this year's junior class, any kid that graduates will have their tuition paid for to any SUNY school.
George Weiss is the philanthropist who founded the "Say Yes To Education" program.
Buffalo is the second city in the state to be chosen for the program, which will provide $100 million in scholarships over the next 20 years.
Scott Brown: "Do you know how many problems and how dysfunctional the educational system here is?"
George Weiss: "What makes it work is a city realizing what they've done hasn't worked and they are suddenly about change. This is the only way people put aside their political differences."
School Board President Lou Petrucci: "We hope it improves attendance, we hope it improves grade point average, we hope it improves their graduation rate, we hope it improves everything."
Scott Brown: "How much more incentive does this give you to do well in school?"
Terrel Harris, Performing Arts student: "It definitely gives us a lot to see that we have a purpose, that we can do stuff in the future and that college is there, it's a reachable goal."
The "Say Yes" program also insists that it have a major say in how the school system is run in terms of curriculum, tutoring, and summer school.
Syracuse was the first city in the state to get the program. It now has over 100 colleges - SUNY and private schools - taking part in the program.
Starting in January, members of the Bufffalo Say Yes program will begin to negotiate with local private colleges to say whether they'll take part in the program.
The program is funded through the Say Yes Foundation and local foundations and donors.
The organization Say Yes to Education is partnering with the Buffalo Public Schools to invest $15 million into the school system and offer a scholarship for free tuition for students to attend state schools.
The scholarship is part of a "promise" fund for students in the Buffalo Public School system to cover up to 100% of their tuition at a SUNY school. The class of 2013 will be the first class eligible for the scholarships.
The tuition is offered to students who complete all four years of high school. Nearly 1,000 students have received scholarship in Syracuse where the program has been operating for four years.