Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation Commits $500,000 to Say Yes Cleveland Support Services

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has contributed $500,000 towards Say Yes Cleveland support services.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mandel Foundation for their generous support of Say Yes Cleveland’s support services,” said Diane Downing, executive director of Say Yes Cleveland. “While Say Yes Cleveland’s postsecondary scholarships often get the most attention, support services are the cornerstone of our long-term work. By helping students overcome the barriers that poverty often puts before them, they can stay on track to success and be prepared to take the full advantage of the Say Yes scholarship waiting for them after high school graduation.”

The Mandel Foundation’s grant will help fund the school-based support services Say Yes Cleveland provides for students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and partnering charter schools. Services include a Family Support Specialist in each school; the Say Yes Postsecondary Planning System, which helps identify student needs and enables the Family Support Specialist to connect them with services and support; and access to services such as after-school and summer programing, mental health services, and free legal assistance for students and their families.

Mandel Foundation President and CEO Jehuda Reinharz said, “Say Yes Cleveland is doing work that helps students and families today and will also help to improve Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods, and workforce over the coming decades. It’s a strategy perfectly aligned with the Mandel Foundation’s commitment to urban engagement.”

“This contribution to Say Yes Cleveland support services is really an investment in a more dynamic, thriving future for our community,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, Mandel Foundation Board Chair. “These services help students overcome the significant challenges associated with multi-generational poverty, challenges that leave no room for setbacks and often hinder postsecondary pursuit or performance.”

During the two years of Say Yes Cleveland, the organization has sent more than 1,000 CMSD graduates to postsecondary education with the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship program, in addition to developing and launching support services programming.

Say Yes Cleveland support services are intended to be responsive to the evolving needs of students, so as more is learned about those needs, Say Yes Cleveland works to develop corresponding new programs and services. The first year of support services identified a large unmet need for mental health services for students; in response, Say Yes is expanding mental health counseling using State of Ohio grant funding. Working with multiple partners, Say Yes Cleveland helped launch and fund Academic Learning Pods in 2020, designed to provide a safe, small-group, in-person option to those families who need an alternative to remote learning for their elementary school-age child. Most recently, Say Yes Cleveland is launching a pilot program to bring medical and mental telehealth services to students in four schools this year, with expansion anticipated thereafter.

For the remainder of the 2020/2021 school year, Say Yes services are provided in a total of 42 schools: 13 CMSD high schools, 26 CMSD K-8 schools, and three K-8 Breakthrough Charter schools. This summer, Say Yes Cleveland will expand to an additional 30 schools. By 2023, Say Yes Cleveland support services will be available in 100% of CMSD and eligible partner charter schools (90+ schools in total).

About Say Yes Cleveland

Say Yes Cleveland is a local organization that provides two big things for Cleveland students: support services for students in CMSD and partner charter schools from PreK through graduation; and college or career training tuition scholarships for all eligible scholars after graduation from a CMSD high school. By emphasizing the necessity of support services from Pre-K through high school graduation, the Say Yes program aims to help students overcome the barriers that poverty often puts before them, so that they can stay on track to success and be prepared to take the full advantage of the Say Yes scholarship waiting for them after high school graduation. Say Yes Cleveland was launched in 2019 by local convening organizations, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Foundation, College Now and United Way. For more information, visit SayYesCleveland.org.