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Gown Towns: A Case Study of Say Yes to Education

Date: Jul 10, 2018
Author(s): Richard Reeves, Katherine Guyot, Edward Rodrigue
Topic(s): Education: K-12 Education, Education: Poverty and Education
Type: Report

Postsecondary education is the entry ticket to the middle class. But for low-income Americans, college success is rare (Chapter 1). This report consists primarily of a case study of Say Yes to Education, based on interviews, site visits, focus groups, surveys, and empirical analysis (our methods are described in Chapter 2).

The goal of our research was to extract lessons from the Say Yes experience for those engaged in similar efforts to boost postsecondary education outcomes through place-based initiatives. After a history of supporting individual classes of students (Chapter 3), Say Yes has embarked on initiatives in Syracuse and Buffalo, New York, and Guilford County, North Carolina. Cleveland looks set to be the next Say Yes city. There is no single, fixed Say Yes “model.” Considerable variation can be seen across the sites. But the Say Yes approach consists of four principal components: a final-dollar college tuition scholarship funded from an endowment; a cross-sectoral collaborative governance structure; the provision of support services to boost college-readiness (e.g. summer schools, legal clinics, afterschool learning); and a data-driven approach based on shared data, pathway metrics, and an individualized tracking system (Chapter 4). We provide detailed case studies of the Say Yes experience in the three current sites. In each case, we describe the evolution of the Say Yes initiative, with a particular focus on each of the four core components in each site. We also report results from surveys and focus groups, and summarize the existing empirical research.

You can also find the report on the Brookings website