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Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York legislature have significantly increased funding for the nonprofit organization Say Yes Buffalo in this year’s state budget. The organization, which provides scholarship funds to help Buffalo students pay for college, received a boost from $2.5 million to $7.5 million. Say Yes Buffalo boasts politically powerful board members such as State Sen. Tim Kennedy and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, both of whom are from Buffalo. This increase in funding comes as Kennedy is favored to win a special election to Congress and fill a vacant seat.

The surge in funding for Say Yes Buffalo coincides with the elimination of state operating aid to private universities with endowments exceeding $750 million. This new stipulation is expected to save the state around $18 million. The Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities argues that most colleges use a significant portion of their endowment to provide financial aid and scholarships to students. Despite this change, Say Yes Buffalo CEO David Rust expressed gratitude for the state’s investment in the organization, which will help secure its work long-term.

Say Yes Buffalo has seen success in improving high school graduation rates as well as college enrollment and graduation rates in Buffalo. The organization has also raised over $50 million for its own endowment, including a separate $10 million allocation from the state in the previous year. Rust commended the state for including Say Yes Buffalo in this year’s budget and ensuring its continued contributions to the community. Governor Hochul has also expressed her support for providing educational opportunities to all students, regardless of their background, mentioning the importance of funding organizations like Say Yes Buffalo.

Governor Hochul highlighted the importance of providing equal educational opportunities to all students during a memorial service for the victims of a mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket. She emphasized the significance of supporting organizations like Say Yes Buffalo in helping students achieve their educational goals. While Say Yes Buffalo received a substantial increase in funding this year, Rust mentioned that he does not expect the organization to receive funds from the state in the following year. This change in funding allocations reflects the state’s shifting priorities in education funding.

The increased funding for Say Yes Buffalo underscores the state’s commitment to supporting organizations that assist students in pursuing higher education. The allocation of funds to Say Yes Buffalo, despite the elimination of state operating aid for certain private universities, highlights the state’s focus on providing educational opportunities to students from underserved communities. The success of Say Yes Buffalo in improving graduation and college enrollment rates further demonstrates the positive impact of investing in organizations that support students in pursuing higher education. This increased funding for Say Yes Buffalo aligns with Governor Hochul’s goal of ensuring that all students have access to quality educational opportunities, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

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