Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Say Yes Saying It's Sorry to Guilford, Promising Free Tuition to Cleveland"

"Say Yes Guilford took a big hit earlier this year when representatives of the highly touted college scholarship assistance program for Guilford County Schools graduates announced that Say Yes would only provide college tuition aid to those in lower-income brackets - and not students from all families, as was previously billed.

Now Say Yes backers are trying pick up the pieces, put the past behind them and move forward by generating new enthusiasm, new fundraising and fresh support from area local governments and the Guilford County Board of Education.

...In early March, the Rhino Times reported that Say Yes was limiting scholarships due to a massive financial miscalculation in the amount of money the program would need to fund such a program...

Thanks for the Hat Tip Scott

...Say Yes Guilford was able to meet its first year obligations for school year 2016-2017, but the new organization announced there was no way it could afford to grandfather in those students for the following three years of their college education - despite the fact that those families were counting on tuition help from Say Yes for the entire four years.

In the aftermath of the public relations disaster, Say Yes Guilford has been trying to regroup and recover, and in recent weeks it has taken the first step: what some area elected officials have been calling the "Say Yes apology tour."

In private meetings at business offices and in restaurants - sometimes in one-on-one meetings and sometimes in small groups - Say Yes Guilford officials, as well as those from the national office, have been meeting with county commissioners, school board members, city councilmembers and other local leaders in an attempt to shore up support for the program and get the fundraising effort moving again.

Why not just say lobbying?

For instance, on Tuesday evening, May 23, local and national Say Yes representatives met with Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips and others at B. Christopher's in downtown Greensboro to discuss the matter.

Nice expensive venue to buy a politician in

...In the meantime, despite the problems that the program faces in Guilford County, the national Say Yes to Education organization is adding, undaunted and unfazed, another place where the program will be established - the Cleveland, Ohio, public school system...

...Elected officials in Guilford County have been commenting to each other about recent articles in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that look just like those published in Guilford County two years ago.  One recent article reads, "If the program picks Cleveland, the partnership's goal would be to guarantee free tuition as early as 2018 for every Cleveland school district graduate, regardless of family income, at any state university, or at participating school in other states."

Sound familiar?

Another article quotes school officials as saying that Say Yes is a "game-changer" - a two-word phrase that was used quite frequently in Guilford County to describe the program in 2015 and 2016.

Also, like in Guilford County, Say Yes, according to the Plain Dealer, would "provide a $15 million gift to the city, along with 30 years of experience of giving tuition grants."  Say Yes has pledged to invest the same amount in Guilford County Schools.

...One Guilford County commissioner who read a Plain Dealer article said it was interesting how, when it comes to the articles being written about what's going on in Cleveland, the name "Cleveland" could be taken out and "Guilford County" inserted and the articles would almost be identical to those that ran in Guilford County in 2015.

Press accounts in Cleveland seem to reflect no awareness of the issues that have arisen with the program in Guilford County.

...Say Yes Guilford did have about $5 million of that $42 million in hand but it had to use that money to cover the giant unanticipated costs to cover just the first year of Guilford County students entering college in 2016-2017.

According to one estimate, what would be needed to make a sustainable Say Yes Guilford program that would help every student is $550 million - a number everyone agrees is unobtainable, which is why the program had to scale back and move forward with a greatly reduced goal.

What is Cleveland's fundraising goal Scott?

Say Yes Guilford Communications Director Donnie Turlington said this week that the group has refined its financial calculations and now has a good understanding of where those went wrong before.

After Donnie lied through his teeth with full knowledge
the payouts could not be made, months before the story broke

...He said the fundraising effort also continues but, as of now, there aren't any major high-profile fundraising events for Say Yes Guilford on the schedule. "We don't have anything specific planned," he said.  "We don't traditionally do a dinner or anything like that."

Say Yes Guilford is dead in the water

Turlington said the new scholarship projections from the Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board - the ruling body that makes many of the decisions for the local program - are "more in line" with available funds...

The Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board should be ashamed of themselves
for misleading our community

...The organization is also in talks with elected officials and other local leaders and funding sources, and is now stressing "wraparound" services that Say Yes is expected to implement in schools with the help of area governments and local partners.


"We can't say for sure what those will be," Turlington said, but he added that examples could be things like after-school mentoring programs and "low-cost or no-cost" health services, or mental health assistance and nutrition plans for students.

With what money?

"We just don't know the specifics yet," he said.  "We're collecting data and analysis from parents, teachers and students."


...One thing the Guilford County commissioners have been frustrated about over the last two years is that there's been a lot of discussion regarding wraparound services but the commissioners still don't know what those are.  One commissioner said recently that many of the types of things Say Yes officials hint at - mental health programs, school nurses, social services-based programs - fall under county government but the commissioners still have no idea what they will be expected to support in that regard or how much it might cost county taxpayers.

"how much it might cost county taxpayers"

Guilford County Board of Education Chairman Alan Duncan said that, despite the Say Yes Guilford setback earlier this year, there are some positive signs.

"No one has gone back on their commitments," Duncan said of those who have promised money so far.

If that's the case, a massive fraud has been committed
by those who knew the program was unsustainable
with zero accountability as usual

...commitments seem to have leveled off at just over the $40-million mark nearly a year ago.  At a meeting in Jamestown last November, one Say Yes official attributed that stall to it being "the political season."


...Branson also said that Say Yes supporter Walker Sanders, the president of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, had asked to meet with him to talk about the program.

Walker Sanders is financially literate
and pulled a fast one on Guilford County's kids and their parents,
and should be tarred, feathered and shipped out of town in a trash truck
for misleading so many while knowing what would happen

...Branson said that recent events have soured a lot of parents.

Who would have thought?

He also said he doesn't know if the program in Guilford County will even be around in a year or two.
"They are probably in survival mode," Branson said of Say Yes Guilford.