City high school seniors encouraged to apply for Say Yes

Apr 15, 2014

A new deadline is nearing for Buffalo Public high school seniors to complete scholarship applications for Say Yes Buffalo.  As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says city students are encouraged to apply so they can attend college.

Say Yes Buffalo banner outside Medaille College, one of the schools participating in the scholarship program.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

While students are off on Easter break this week, it's a good time to get their application ready as May first approaches.

"We have a really good process in place to ensure that every student that is eligible for the college scholarship is applying for it," said David Rust, executive director of Say Yes Buffalo.

David Rust, Say Yes Buffalo executive director.
Credit WBFO News file photo

The Say Yes program is working closely with school counselors to make sure students get their applications in on-time. Say Yes scholarships cover tuition costs for students to attend college at participating schools. In an effort to get students to apply, Say Yes Buffalo is offering some prizes.

"The counselors track the percentage progress everyday, and for schools that reach 100-percent, we throw the senior class a party and at that party, we also raffle off prizes," said Rust.

The Say Yes Buffalo has worked to make sure it avoids pitfalls and mistakes made by the program in Syracuse.  Rust tells WBFO News they continue to make sure it engages all their community stakeholders and has implemented a strong data platform to track progress. The next report is due out in June.

"We have our individual student level management system that allows us to find where kids are off track and figure out how we can get them back on target, so the data is ultimately going to tell he story here that is something we found we can improve on from Syracuse," said Rust.

WBFO News asked Rust how Say Yes also works to keep politics out of the program.

"We are A-political and I think that is something people say we've done well," said Rust. "Everybody has been incredible about rallying behind that cause."

Say Yes Buffalo provides scholarships for full tuition to those families who earn less than $75,000. But in the midst of trying to help students attend college, Say Yes did receive complaints about a company named College Admissions Assistance. The organization claims to be connected to Say Yes.  But Rust warns the community not to give funding to that program.  He said is not affiliated with Say Yes.