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Say Yes Guilford

Collective Action in Guilford County: Building Pathways To Success in Education & Youth Development


Say Yes Guilford


Collective Action in Guilford County: Building Pathways To Success in Education & Youth Development


How can an organization drive collective action by working in partnership with a local school district and nonprofit partners to advance k-12 student outcomes, including college acceptance, completion and employment?


Say Yes Guilford (SYG) aimed to build a pathway for K-12 educational outcomes for students in Guilford County, North Carolina public schools. SYG started as a chapter of Say Yes to Education, a network of local organizations seeking to support student success. The model connects students to academic and non-academic supports throughout their Pre-K through 12 education and provides a district-wide scholarship program. 

The SYG team sought strategic and implementation support from Root Cause as it worked to build strong links with leaders and staff in the community, the public school district, and government agencies. First, we worked with SYG and Ready for School, Ready for Life, an early childhood initiative and Root Cause partner, to explore how the two organizations could develop one development pathway from pre-natal to 12th grade outcomes. Second, our team helped the leadership of Say Yes Guilford navigate the transition to a wholly owned and operated Say Yes to Education chapter. Third, we brought together a planning group and conducted a business-planning process to develop a two-year action plan through 2020. The plan set out five strategies to improve individual and school-wide student outcomes in Guilford County.    

A key element of the plan is the alignment of Say Yes Guilford’s goals with the strategic goals of the Guilford County Schools. Say Yes Guilford is now working with 12 schools to develop proof points and scale services that help advance two Guilford County School goals:


Increase the percentage of students who read proficiently by the end of third grade

Increase the number of graduating seniors who complete a rigorous career pathway


“The Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board is excited about the opportunity to provide scholarship support to over 900 Guilford County students. We are so thankful to our donors and all of our partners for the role they play toward making the dream of a college education a reality for so many of our bright and talented Guilford County students,” says Robert Pompey, the Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board Chair
“Say Yes Guilford believes in the four pillars of Say Yes — availability of scholarships, data-driven decision-making, provision of academic and non-academic supports, and shared governance,” says Mindy Oakley, the Interim Chair of the Board of Guilford PreK-12, Inc. & Executive Director of the Armfield Foundation
“I thought I was pretty lucky, because it [support from Say Yes Guilford] started as soon as I got out of high school. It definitely made college easier and cheaper on my plate,” says James McNeill, an Andrews High School Graduate

Goals & Results

On July 1, 2018, after three years of operations, Guilford County became the first community in the country to locally own and operate its Say Yes to Education chapter.

SYG is currently implementing its two-year business plan. The nonprofit organization is operating in 12 schools in Guilford County to begin to map student support services currently available in and out of schools.  Its team is working with principals to document student needs, align with Guilford County School priorities, and collect data to set performance baselines for each school.

SYG is also continuing its commitment to building a rigorous career pathway by providing postsecondary tuition scholarships, with a two-year goal of establishing a $70 million dollar endowment for sustainable scholarship funding for students who graduate from Guilford County high schools and are residents of Guilford County.  


Greensboro News & Record
Say Yes Gets Money for New Support Services in Guilford Schools

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Greensboro News & Record
Say Yes Takes Program Under Local Control

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Say Yes to Education Guilford
Agreement Reached to Accelerate Local Control of Say Yes Guilford Chapter

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Say Yes to Education Guilford
Say Yes Guilford Provides $1.3 Million in Scholarship Funding in its Second Year

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About the Partner

Say Yes Guilford

Say Yes Guilford provides access to services, support and scholarships designed to prepare Guilford County Schools students for success in college, career and life.

Guilford County is the first community in the country to locally own and operate its Say Yes to Education chapter after transitioning from Say Yes to Education national.

With more than $40 million pledged and committed to the Say Yes Guilford scholarship fund over its first two years of operation, the chapter has provided approximately $7.1 million in tuition funding to more than 3,000 students from the Guilford County Schools classes of 2016 and 2017. In addition, through concerted efforts to enhance the college-going culture within Guilford County Schools, Say Yes Guilford and the school district have increased the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by over 14 percent since 2015.

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