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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Say Yes Cleveland Offers Support Services At 16 Schools

Students at some public schools in Cleveland will receive support services this fall. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]
A photo shows the Cleveland Metropolitan School District headquarters in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) returns to session on Aug. 12 and students at 16 schools will be getting extra support services as part of the Say Yes Cleveland initiative.

When students at participating schools report to class, the first difference they may notice is a full-time staff person who can connect them and their families to any social services they need — such as help buying school uniforms. Then, over the next few months, CMSD schools will start offering after-school programs, one-on-one counseling and legal services for families facing eviction.

The idea is to help families deal with economic and social problems that could keep kids from succeeding academically, says Jon Benedict of Say Yes Cleveland.

"More than 90 percent of CMSD families are significantly economically challenged," Benedict says. "And there are a whole host of academic, social, emotional and physical challenges that go along with those economic ones."

Benedict says the results may take a while to become apparent.

"This isn’t a magic wand that fixes everything tomorrow," he says. "What it is designed to do is to change our direction over a couple of generations by helping students from pre-K all the way through high school graduation and then beyond."

The 16 schools includes ten K-8 schools and six high schools. Some Say Yes participating schools already had similar services in place as part of a pre-existing partnership with the United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Support services will be offered in all 106 Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools within the next four years, Benedict says.

Say Yes Cleveland is the local chapter of the nonprofit Say Yes to Education, which also has chapters in Buffalo, Syracuse, N.Y., and Guilford County, N.C. The program awarded college scholarships to its first cohort of Cleveland high school graduates in July.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.