In My Mind, I’m Going To Carolina

say-yes-guilford

We’ve been writing about this since January, but now we can officially say it — Welcome and congratulations, Guilford County!

Say Yes To Education — founded by George Weiss in 1987 in Philadelphia — made the official announcement today that Guilford County, which is home to both Greensboro and High Point, is its newest partner.

Led locally by the Guilford Education Alliance, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the High Point Community Foundation and Guilford County Schools, the region has already raised $32.5 million toward its $70 million goal to fund the endowment for last-dollar tuition scholarships. The district — which has a whopping 72,000 students — is comprised of largely low-income and minority students.

“They often have the smarts, they have the GPA, but the money is not there,” said Felicia Andrews, a parent and local Say Yes organizer.

The current class of seniors — more than 5,000 in total — will be 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.

Why Guilford County? “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.”

So it was easy to say yes.

Hartford Promise Has A Leader

cop-sugarman

Richard Sugarman — the founding president of The Connecticut Forum — has been named the first Executive Director of Hartford Promise, which will offer up to $20,000 and non-financial support to its first graduating class in 2016.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Richard Sugarman lead this initiative,” said Dr. Martin Estey — the Executive Director of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education who also served on a panel at PromiseNet 2014. “His proven leadership skills, ability to build collaborations, and knowledge of the community and educational issues are profound. I’m excited to work with him.”

Sugarman’s Connecticut Forum is an award winning non-profit organization that brings nationally known panelists to Hartford four times a year to discuss a variety of timely and important topics. The Forum has also developed outreach programming, including The Connecticut Youth Forum which grew from the response to Focus on Race Relations in 1993.

“Education…providing the highest quality education and opening all the doors of possibility for every child in our community has been a core value and longstanding priority for me,” said Sugarman. “Hartford Promise offers a transformative opportunity to make the dream of higher education a reality for every Hartford student. I’m excited to launch Hartford Promise and work with many others to build it into the significant, sustained promise that all our children deserve.”

The requirements for the scholarship are very similar to New Haven Promise as Hartford scholars will need to be city residents who have been enrolled in the public system for their entire high school career. They will need to carry a minimum 3.0 grade point average and meet district attendance criteria.

“Richard Sugarman’s appointment moves us another step toward our vision of creating a school system where every student is well prepared, both intellectually and financially for college and career success. I’m excited and eager to begin working with him,” said Hartford School Superintendent Beth Narvaez. “The Hartford Promise is a well thought out approach to building student readiness and breaking down barriers that stand in the way of post-secondary education. It will define our district for many years to come. I want to thank the business and non-profit leaders in the city who joined together to support this breakthrough strategy.”

To date, $3.8 million has been pledged to Hartford Promise from contributors and champions including: The Travelers Foundation ($2 million); Hartford Hospital ($1 million); George Weiss-Say Yes to Education Foundation ($500,000); Newman’s Own Foundation ($200,000); and Robert Patricelli, Chairman, President and CEO of Women’s Health USA ($100,000).

Sugarman started the position last week and one of his first days on the job included a visit to New Haven to take in the release of an early progress study by the RAND Corporation.