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College prep and assistance program reaches 15th anniversary

A diverse group of students in graduation attire clapping
Say Yes Syracuse

Thousands of Central New York high school seniors are celebrating their graduation this month. This includes those involved in the Say Yes to Education program. It’s celebrating 15 years of making college more accessible and affordable. Program officials say scholarships have been awarded to more than six thousand students.

Graduates have gone on to work in fields, from criminal justice and education, to medicine, sports, and government. Say Yes says it has provided nearly $15 million in full-tuition scholarships to help students attend more than 100 colleges and universities.

“For 15 years, Say Yes Syracuse has opened doors to higher education for thousands of students. By removing financial barriers, we are not just helping students attend college; we are setting them up for lifelong success. Our community is stronger because of the opportunities provided by Say Yes,” said Melanie Littlejohn, president and CEO of the Central New York Community Foundation, which administers the program.

In addition to the financial aid to go to college, Say Yes provides support services to students while they're in high school to prepare them for higher education. Program officials say many stduetns who would qualify for scholarships don't apply, "... leaving many dreams unrealized."

Say Yes encourages students, particularly those in 9th, 10th and 11th grades to apply.

“We want families to know that college is most definitely an option for them, and we urge all eligible students to apply for scholarships,” said Ahmeed Turner, Say Yes Syracuse executive director.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.