Leveling the Playing Field

Say Yes_Not Just About More Time

My latest, a white paper for Say Yes to Education that looks at the merits of providing at-risk youth with the kinds of services they need to address the barriers that often prevent them from showing up at school on time, if at all, much less doing well while they’re there or finding the time or the place in what can be a chaotic home life to focus on dividends, quotients and divisors, for example, or the difference between peak, peak and pique.

The work of Say Yes to Education is part of an ever increasing effort on the part of school systems and education organizations to level the playing field for disadvantaged youth by removing socioeconomic impediments and educational barriers brought about by decades of institutionalized racism. The Say Yes approach, which builds on the work of other organizations, such as Communities in Schools, is twofold. And it’s massive.

On a community-wide level in places like Syracuse, Buffalo, and Guilford County, North Carolina, it works with local entities to bring a broad spectrum of support services — everything from the arts to counseling to legal assistance — into or as near the school house door as possible, all of it intended to mitigate or overcome the obstacles that often come with a life lived in poverty.

Once these young people complete high school, diploma in hand, the second part of the Say Yes program kicks in – the promise of a college scholarship. By working with local philanthropists to raise money for a scholarship fund, Say Yes guarantees that all eligible graduates will be able to attend an in-state public college or university or one of the more than 100 private institutions that are part of the Say Yes program.

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