Say Yes Cleveland
will roll out services in the District over four years, starting
K-8 schools and six high schools this fall. The
organization will hire one specialist for each school, relying
heavily on how well the principals feel they meshed with the
“The principals’ input is one of the most important determinants
of who is in their buildings,” said Victor Young,
director of student and family services for Say Yes Cleveland.
“This is about finding a fit with their culture and their
Say Yes received more than 140 applications for the first
openings and trimmed the field to less than 50 candidates.
The specialists will be paid $67,500 a year, plus. The
first-year cost is expected to total $1.4 million, which is to
be covered by District, Cuyahoga County and federal funds.
Everyone interviewed met the qualifications, with the majority
holding a master’s degree in social work, extensive experience
working in an urban setting and bilingual skills where needed.
But resumes were set aside when the interviews were held at East
Professional Center. The goal was to find a match for the
school’s profile, and, due to volume, candidates rotated every
Principals ranked their top six candidates in order of
preference and will conduct follow-up interviews with at least
two. The specialists are expected to be on the job in August.
and Victoria Janke-Mousty, co-principals at Wilbur Wright
School on the West Side, took note of candidates who were
familiar with available resources, felt comfortable with a
diverse population and had their fingers on the pulse of the
500-plus Wilbur Wright students, the staff and the community.
Finley, who was new to the whirlwind style of the interviews,
described the format as fun, but she grasped the importance of
getting the choice right. She knows the specialists will have to
win over wary mothers and fathers.
“Some parents had negative experiences with school,” Finley
said. “To have their trust is so important.”
Say Yes Cleveland plans to draw on an abundance of
existing community services, including many that come with
public or private funding.
Say Yes Cleveland is surveying school staff, parents and
students to determine which services their schools need most.
Mental health counseling, legal assistance and after-school and
summer enrichment programs are among those that are expected to
be widely in demand.
Executive Director Diane Downing
and other Say Yes Cleveland representatives recently held
an information session for prospective providers of after-school
and weekend programs.
Dozens of provider representatives gathered at East
Professional Center to learn more about a request for
proposals that were due Wednesday. Selections are to be made by
Say Yes Cleveland,
one of four chapters affiliated with the national organization
Say Yes to Education, awards scholarships worth up to the full
value of tuition, minus federal and state aid.
The scholarships fill gaps in tuition to all public two- and
four-year colleges and universities and Pell-eligible trade or
industry certificate programs in Ohio. The assistance also can
be used at more than 100 private colleges and universities
across the country.
Starting with the incoming freshman class, students must live in
the District or city of Cleveland and be continuously enrolled
in a CMSD high school from ninth grade until graduation.
Students who met those conditions when
the program was announced on Jan. 18, 2019, are
To learn more, visit sayyescleveland.org.