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Published September 24, 2019

UB partners with Gates Foundation to increase college completion rates

Say Yes Buffalo awarded $2.9 million grant

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Say Yes Buffalo and its partner institutions — including UB — a 22 month, $2.9 million grant to increase college completion rates for Buffalo Public School (BPS) graduates. Say Yes Buffalo, launched in 2012, is a community collaboration dedicated to increasing high school and postsecondary graduation rates. Say Yes Buffalo is also a college scholarship program for BPS students.

GSE is involved in the “knowledge-management” aspect of the grant, which is led by Nathan Daun-Barnett, associate professor from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. “This grant will help expand GSE’s FASFA project, in which GSE students will work with students in BPS to complete the students FASFA applications for federal financial aid for college,” says Daun-Barnett. “The plan is to increase the number of Say Yes scholars who will mentor BPS students and their families in completing FASFA.”

With 38 of last year’s 46 Say Yes scholars coming from UB, Daun-Barnett notes the aim is to expand the number of scholars taking part in the project from the other local universities hosting scholars, as well as from UB. Daun-Barnett adds that GSE intends to assist in evaluating the grant, including participation in a learning community, which he calls “an opportunity to learn from one another as we develop community-based strategies.” Five communities were funded for this work: Buffalo, Chattanooga, Dallas, Rio Grande Valley and Tacoma.

“GSE’s work will also include creating a P-12 data warehouse for BPS with a long-term goal of launching a P-16 data system,” says Daun-Barnett. “This will allow for sharing of information between the public school district and the institutions of higher education regarding what students need to achieve success.” GSE has been involved in numerous Say Yes activities over the years, among them the FASFA Completion Program, College Success Centers at several city high schools and Say Yes community schools programming.

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