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Mandel Foundation helps fund Say Yes support services





The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has donated $500,000 to help Say Yes Cleveland connect CMSD students and their families to support services.

Say Yes Cleveland is better known for tuition scholarships given to CMSD graduates. But the services are critical to reaching that goal.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mandel Foundation for their generous support,” said Diane Downing, executive director of Say Yes Cleveland. “While Say Yes Cleveland’s postsecondary scholarships often get the most attention, support services are the cornerstone of our long-term work. By helping students overcome the barriers that poverty often puts before them, they can stay on track to success and be prepared to take the full advantage of the Say Yes scholarship waiting for them after high school graduation.”

School-based Say Yes specialists line up services that meet the needs of students in CMSD and partnering charter schools and their families. The Say Yes Postsecondary Planning System helps identify and connect families to services such as after-school and summer programing, mental health services and free legal assistance.

“Say Yes Cleveland is doing work that helps students and families today and will also help to improve Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods, and workforce over the coming decades,” Mandel Foundation President and CEO Jehuda Reinharz said. “It’s a strategy perfectly aligned with the Mandel Foundation’s commitment to urban engagement.”

Say Yes Cleveland was launched in 2018 and since then has sent more than 1,000 CMSD graduates to postsecondary education on scholarships that pay up to the full value of tuition, minus federal and state aid.

The first year of support services identified a large need for mental health services for students; in response, Say Yes is using state funds to expand counseling.

During remote learning, Say Yes Cleveland helped start and fund academic learning pods that benefit parents by providing supervision for elementary-school students. Say Yes also is piloting physical and mental health services at four schools, with expansion to other schools expected to follow.

Say Yes services are currently provided in 13 CMSD high schools, 26 CMSD elementary schools and three Breakthrough charter schools. Services will expand to 30 more schools this summer and be available in all CMSD and eligible partner charter schools by 2023. 

Parents and guardians of students in Say Yes schools can help plan services by taking a survey at