Say Yes to Education Consulting Services are fee-based services that expand the capacity of communities to make it possible for all young people to earn a college degree or other postsecondary credential. Inspired by philanthropist George Weiss, who founded the nonprofit organization Say Yes to Education 30 years ago, the institute builds on the work of Say Yes with the experience and knowledge in helping communities come together to best support young people, preschool to career, on the path to adult success.

Specifically, Say Yes Consulting Services provides tools and expertise to support communities in their efforts to:

• Identify and leverage community strengths
• Build trust and civic infrastructure, along with processes for collaborative governance
• Establish incentives to drive sustainable collaboration
• Eliminate or reduce predictable barriers to academic achievement
• Close the equity gap in education
• Break the cycles of intergenerational poverty
• Prepare young people for meaningful careers, lifelong learning and civic engagement
• Build a college-going culture and increase postsecondary degree attainment
• Improve community vitality and economic development.

Often, communities take a short-term, single-issue approach to a challenge that requires nothing less than long-term, community-wide structural and cultural change. Say Yes Consulting Services brings together the best thinking, latest research and community-tested strategies for the benefit of communities seeking to help more students get on a path to adult success. An applied research and technical assistance center, the Institute:

• Commissions research to advance the understanding of how communities can most effectively support young people
• Organizes and leads convenings around the country where participants can learn about best practices from partner organizations and each other
• Leads site visits to communities engaging in best practice
• Provides fee-for-service technical assistance to help communities create and implement strategies locally
• Increases awareness and encourages adoption of strategies that work.

Too many young people are not graduating from high school or are graduating unprepared for and unable to pay for college or other postsecondary education. And many communities, ready to solve this problem, are seeking fresh ways to make systemic change. Over the past 30 years, Say Yes to Education has gone from helping small groups of children raise their high school graduation and college matriculation rates to partnering with entire communities to achieve these goals. Say Yes leaders developed the vision for the Institute in response to rising demand for its expertise in expanding local capacity to drive toward the goal of college or other postsecondary completion for all public school students.

There are dozens of communities that offer postsecondary scholarship programs, and others that enrich students’ and families’ lives with academic and non-academic supports. And there are research centers that study how communities can best work together, as well as organizations that offer communities guidance and technical assistance. But Say Yes to Education is the only entity that combines these elements and offers communities long-term technical assistance to integrate and scale them.

The primary audience served includes cities, counties, and states that are interested in developing and implementing comprehensive approaches to transforming outcomes for young people. The programming of Say Yes to Education and the research commissioned by it will also be of interest to foundations, nonprofits, research organizations, think tanks, higher education institutions, policy organizations, and advocacy groups.