GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Four years ago, Say Yes for Education started in Guilford County promising free college tuition to every student. Millions of dollars were raised to support the promise, but since then there have been some bumps in the road.
This week the Say Yes Guilford Board of Directors named a new Chief Executive Officer which could mean we will start to see more positive progress with the program.
Wendy Poteat will run the program beginning June 3, 2019. We spoke with her about the scholarship program's future exclusively on the Good Morning Show.
Poteat says while there were some problems early, the program is on solid ground helping nearly a thousand students go to college last year.
"Right now the scholarship portion is running really well. There were some hiccups, but I think we've moved past that. The class of 2018 was the most recent class to get scholarship dollars. There were 938 students who received scholarships from Say Yes in the amount of $1.3 million dollars," said Poteat.
Part of the early problems in 2015 was that it was run by the national office. Today, Say Yes runs its own locally governed Say Yes to Education chapter in Guilford County.
"The goal for Say Yes is for our endowment to be at $70 million. Right now we have $38.5 million pledged to Say Yes but what we want to make sure we do is involve the community. It's not just organizations but individuals are able to pledge as well."
There were some miscalculations early on about how much it would cost to send students to college. Poteat says changing the structure of who is awarded a scholarship to preserve more funds for future college-bound students.
The qualifications are now income based and applied on top of whatever money is received from FAFSA.
Poteat says, "The new criteria that are in place opens it up to almost every economic bracket in Guilford County." She says despite past frustrations, every student should apply.
Say Yes Guilford priority registration is open through June 1, 2019.
Before signing on as CEO of Say Yes, Poteat worked as the Executive Director of the Forsyth Promise.