by Julia Wallace
On September 17 Dean of Admissions Lee Ann Backlund confirmed Sewanee’s involvement in Say Yes to Education, a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising high school and college graduation rates in urban areas. Sewanee, along with 11 other universities including Northwestern University, Harvard University, University of Notre Dame, Duke University, and Princeton University, signed with the organization this year, promising free tuition to eligible students involved in the program.
Say Yes to Education began in Philadelphia in 1987 and is now established in all 32 school districts of Syracuse and is citywide in Buffalo, serving almost 65,000 students in New York alone, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The organization’s support spans for the entirety of their academic career and includes tutoring, diagnostic strength assessments, after school and summer programs (including academic support and cultural and recreational activities), college admissions assistance, healthcare, dental care, and legal assistance. In the end, more than 75% of students graduate from high school, and more than 50% complete a postsecondary degree.
The Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which specifically funds full college scholarship for public high school students in Syracuse and Buffalo, is now supported by a network of over 50 private colleges, including Sewanee. Through donations by Say Yes to Education and other donors, these schools are able to guarantee tuition to students who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
In a statement submitted to the organization, Backlund said, “The University of the South is delighted to join the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. It represents one more way we can continue Sewanee’s tradition of making high-quality education possible for capable students, without regard to financial need. The support Say Yes provides to younger students and Sewanee’s commitment to making higher education more accessible should be a great match for deserving students.”