In My Mind, I’m Going To Carolina

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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.

$5 Mil Toward A Generational Opportunity

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Cities of Promise reported in January that folks in Greensboro, N.C., were excited about the possibility of becoming the first metro area outside of the Northeast to become a member of the Say Yes To Education network.

That initiative got a huge boost this week with the announcement of a $5-million commitment from the Phillips Foundation, which focuses on several components of Greensboro’s vibrancy. Executive Director Elizabeth Phillips explained the largest donation in Phillips Foundation history by calling the Say Yes initiative “a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Guilford County.”

The partnerships are being secured in cooperation with Guilford County Schools, the Guilford Education Alliance, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and the Community Foundation of High Point. Marquita Brown of the Greensboro News & Record reported that additional donations are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The only other public mention of an entity in the running for the Say Yes grant is Pittsburgh School District, which already benefits from the expansive Pittsburgh Promise program.

Greensboro expects to know the Say Yes decision in the coming months.