As it turned out, saying yes to Greensboro and Guilford County was pretty easy for George Weiss, the money manager and Promise Pioneer who founded Say Yes To Education in 1987.
As Say Yes looked to expand beyond the Northeast for the first time, one place continued to put itself in the forefront.
“We had roughly 130 different cities and counties that we looked at, and we winnowed the list down to literally three, and Guilford County just blew everybody out of the ballpark,” Weiss told Katie Arcieri of the Triad Business Journal. “What made the county stand out? Every time we had a board meeting, Guilford County was just shining like a star. There was really no discussion. What we need is people to put aside their differences and just help the kids, and that’s what Guilford County did.”
After a long courtship, the announcement came in Sept. 2015 — after Guilford County had raised nearly half of the $70 million it needed to fully support the endowment.
That meant the current class of seniors — more than 5,000 in total — would be potentially eligible for the funds, although details regarding scholarship eligibility are still being finalized. More than 100 private colleges and universities are part of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which also serves students from Say Yes programs in both Buffalo and Syracuse.
The local leadership of the Guilford Education Alliance, The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, High Point Community Foundation and Guilford County Schools were the drivers of the efforts, but landing Say Yes on behalf of the students of Guilford County was a community-wide undertaking.
Now let the hard work and commitment pay off!