The program kicked off in 2008 when Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit foundation, partnered with the Syracuse school district, providing funding and a plan of action. Beyond the central staff, the Say Yes foundation pays for site coordinators at Syracuse schools, who organize the in-school programs, monitor data, and act as liaisons for the initiative with teachers.
Although Say Yes takes its name from the private foundation that started the initiative, it's more than just a partnership between the school district and the private foundation.
In fact, as part of a nonnegotiable pact, Say Yes required the Syracuse district to agree to stipulations that the district would work with community groups, be transparent with funding decisions and academic results, and to find an anchor university to house the Say Yes program.
Say Yes costs about $3,500 a year, per student, and that's not even counting the funds to send students to college. And while Syracuse is immersed in a massive paradigm shift in what a school district does and pays for, funding from traditional sources has begun to dry up.
So, while massive investments are made in after-school programs and student health initiatives, hundreds of teachers lost their jobs.
Yet in most cases, Say Yes and other district programs are not directly competing for the same dollars. Much of the Say Yes money in the district's budget doesn't come from the general fund, which includes teacher salaries, but from schools' Title I budgets, which provide federal funding for schools with high poverty rates.