Hundreds of students in the Buffalo Public School system got a holiday gift from a New York City not-for-profit foundation: they'll get free college tuition if they complete high school. Hundreds of students, teachers, parents and invited dignitaries gathered inside the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts for a pep rally as the group Say Yes to Education made the announcement.
"OK, for all you young men and women in the audience, how many of you are going to college?" asked Say Yes founder George Weiss. "Well I've got some great news for you. Along with Buffalo Promise, you will all get a free college tuition."
Beginning next academic year, Buffalo Public School students who complete four years of high school will be eligible for free college tuition. In addition to free tuition, funds will also provide for Buffalo public school students summer programs, counseling, legal help and even healthcare.
It's a program that was previously introduced in Syracuse. Say Yes to Education has provided an initial investment of $15 million. That, according to one of the partners, will cover tuition and other costs for the next five years. The partnership is aiming to raise enough funds to commit to the next twenty years.
"Mark that date down: 12-20-11," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "This will transform the lives of every child in the Buffalo Public Schools and this will transform the City of Buffalo."