Why We Support Say Yes
In 2011, when fundraising began for the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship, Anne & Bill became early investors in and active ambassadors for the initiative. Bill also took on an official leadership role as Vice Chairman of the Scholarship’s Board of Directors.
“We’ve seen first-hand what an investment in education can do for a student and their family,” said Anne. “Seeing kids struggle for the ability to attend college because of financial barriers is devastating and it’s impossible when we have the means to help to say ‘oh well’ and ignore the problem.”
Adds Bill, “coming from the world of investments, I automatically evaluate many things—including our charitable work—from the point of view of what will be the return? From the first time I heard about the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship I could see its potential for returning huge dividends for this community.”
As chair of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Bill is critically aware of the shortage of educated workers in the region who meet the job needs of Buffalo’s burgeoning science, medical and technology sectors, and what that in turn means for the local economy. He noted the importance of strengthening the city’s public education system as a step toward closing that gap.
“We can’t hope to continue Western New York’s economic renaissance if we don’t fix the public education system in Buffalo,” he said. “One of the reasons Anne and I are such vocal supporters of Say Yes Buffalo is that it is more than just a scholarship program. The public and private entities that have come together, and the services and supports they are putting into schools to remove all barriers to student success–academic, behavioral, health and financial–is ultimately what will make the difference for Buffalo students being prepared to take advantage of the scholarships and successfully earn postsecondary degrees.”
The services and supports being put into place in Buffalo’s public schools through Say Yes is in large part what motivated the couple to double down on their original commitment to the scholarship fund and invest what has become their largest-ever single personal philanthropic donation.
They also point toward the early results that Say Yes Buffalo has contributed to, including a nine-percentage-point increase in the number of Buffalo public students who went to college in the scholarship’s first year, as an important sign of the initiative’s promise. Said Anne, “to be a part of something so transformational for our hometown, that’s already showing results for young people is enormously rewarding.”