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Say Yes Again!: $50M to Harlem schools, Teachers College partners with foundation to serve area students

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Beneficiary of the Say Yes

A beneficiary of the Say Yes program in Philadelphia speaks about how it helped her rise from "the ghetto of all ghettoes" to a college education, home ownership, and happy marriage as Weiss looks on.

Weiss and a child

Weiss holds one of the 400 kindergarten students who will benefit from the Say Yes-Teachers College partnership in Harlem.

Joe Klein, Mayor Dennis Walcott, Arthur Levine

Schools Chancellor Joe Klein, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, and Teachers College President Arthur Levine listen to Say Yes founder George Weiss announce the selection of five public schools for the $50 million scholarship program.

Officials and Footballs

The officials throw footballs into the audience moments after announcing that the schoolchildren in the room would be given free college tuition.

On September 29, philanthropist George Weiss, founder of the Say Yes to Education Foundation, announced a $50 million program to provide kindergarteners in five Harlem schools with full scholarships for advanced education upon graduation from high school. Teachers College is a full partner in the implementation of this program, providing everything from the space to house the project, to staff and accounting services.

TC President Arthur Levine was featured as a speaker at an event held at the Apollo Theatre on 125th Street welcoming Weiss and Say Yes to New York City. The event also featured New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott.

More than 400 kindergartners will join the program, which provides benefits throughout the entire education process, from tutoring, to adult education assistance for parents, to a full scholarship if the student chooses to attend college. The five New York City schools that will be participating are P.S. 161, 180, 57, 83, and 182. "George Weiss is one of my heroes," said Levine. "He gives children the gift of a future. I'm proud that Teachers College has joined with him to give the best present I can imagine to the children in this neighborhood."

In a written statement, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) lauded Say Yes: "This program will have an extraordinary impact on the children, and sets an example for investing in the future of New York."

Teachers College will provide the infrastructure that makes implementation of the program possible, but other organizations are also lending a hand. The IBM Corporation will provide computerized reading labs for all the classes in the program. The law firm of Bingham McCutchen has offered pro bono legal services to the families of the children for the next 15 years, and Harlem Hospital will provide free health care services during that time, among other programs.

TC will also be assisting the project by providing advice on the policies, regulations, and operation of the New York City and state Departments of Education; and collaborating on staff recruitment and project development. Jacqueline Ancess, a member of the selection committee and co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching at TC, said, "I think it's a very exciting project. The families that are receiving this gift are very lucky."

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