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Say Yes to Education still working toward fiscal sustainability

Say Yes to Education is slightly short of its goal to being independently financially sustainable six years after its start.

Say Yes is a national nonprofit that opened a chapter in the Syracuse school district in 2008. It offers a different strategy to improve urban education with a promise of free college tuition to graduating high school seniors.

Pat Driscoll, the director of Say Yes in Syracuse, says they’re about 90 percent of the way toward not needing annual funding from the national organization.

"We hope to be there," he said Monday after briefing common councilors on the nonprofit's progress.

"We hope the council will continue to approve the request for $1.5 million every year, because that really supports all the work that’s going on in the buildings," he said.

Say Yes is moving towards being funded by the school district, city and county, and corporate donations. 

Along with college scholarships, Say Yes offers in- and after-school programs and summer camps.

Say Yes Syracuse is about half way toward its goal of a $20 million endowment six years in as well. Driscoll said the amount they’re raised is still impressive. Launching during a recession hurt fundraising in the beginning, he said.

"We’ve actually made great progress around sustainability," Driscoll said.

Much of the endowment comes from large donations. Driscoll predicts the chapter will have about $8.4 million in the fund after this fiscal year.