$1,000,000 KeyBank Foundation Investment Helps Say Yes Cleveland Provide Tuition Scholarships for Generations of Students

Grant will help Say Yes continue to address educational disparities, granting equal opportunities to students of all economic backgrounds, instilling hope in parents, and empowering the Cleveland community to strengthen its educational foundation
May 15, 2024 9:00 AM ET
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Photo (L-R): KeyBank Cleveland Market President Kelly Lamirand, Say Yes Cleveland Executive Director Diane Downing, KeyBank Cleveland Corporate Responsibility Officer Mattie Jones-Hollowell & KeyBank Northeast Ohio Community Bank Sales Leader Jessica Best.

A $1 million investment by the KeyBank Foundation will help Say Yes Cleveland further its mission of providing tuition scholarships to all eligible students for the next quarter-century. This grant is part of KeyBank’s commitment to invest $40 billion in the communities it serves and also part of Key’s $11 million aggregate commitment to support Say Yes.

Say Yes Cleveland launched in January 2019. Its mission is to partner with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to improve Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods, and workforce over the coming generations by addressing postsecondary affordability. Say Yes Cleveland makes a tuition scholarship available to every eligible CMSD or partnering charter high school graduate to attend a public four-year or two-year institution or accredited training program.

“We are big believers in the transformative and life-changing opportunities Say Yes provides to every CMSD or partnering charter high school graduate in Cleveland,” said KeyBank Cleveland Market President Kelly Lamirand. “As Cleveland’s hometown bank, we are thrilled that this investment will empower and support students here for many, many years by eliminating the burden of paying for college or trade school tuition, helping students and families build generational wealth.”

“We’re so grateful to the KeyBank Foundation for their generous, continued support,” said Say Yes Cleveland Executive Director Diane Downing. “The KeyBank Foundation made one of the very first major donations to the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Fund before we launched in 2019. Their early leadership and commitment inspired other substantial contributions and helped us provide a guarantee to students and families that our scholarships will still be available many years from now.”

The Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund is dedicated to removing financial obstacles to college education for eligible students in the CMSD and partner charter high schools residing in Cleveland and attending a CMSD or partner charter high school from 9th grade to graduation. It provides tuition scholarships, covering tuition and fees at participating colleges and universities, ensuring access for CMSD students. The program pledges to support students until at least 2044, relying on contributions from local foundations, businesses, and individuals. It addresses educational disparities, granting equal opportunities to students of all economic backgrounds, instilling hope in parents, and empowering the Cleveland community to strengthen its educational foundation.

The Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund strategically invests in students and the community's future. These scholarships foster equal opportunities, enabling students to excel and enrich our community.

  • Enhanced College Accessibility: The fund ensures that every CMSD student can afford higher education, regardless of their family's finances.
  • Increased College Enrollment: Significantly boosts CMSD students' college enrollment, broadening their future prospects.
  • Closing Socioeconomic Disparities: The fund narrows the achievement gap among students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, fostering a fairer educational environment.
  • Fostering a Highly Skilled Workforce: By facilitating higher education access, it contributes to a skilled and educated workforce in Cleveland, enhancing the city's economic potential.
  • Economic Attraction and Retention: The scholarship fund's presence attracts and retains businesses in Cleveland, demonstrating the city's commitment to cultivating a well-educated, skilled workforce, benefiting both students and the community.

Since 2019, more than 3,000 Cleveland Metropolitan School District graduates have enrolled in college or career training through a Say Yes Cleveland, and as of December 2023, 298 Say Yes Cleveland scholars have earned their postsecondary degree. Nearly $9 million has been paid out in tuition by the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship fund, which has raised more than $100 million for has been raised locally from the private sector for 25-years of college and career training scholarships for every eligible graduate.

Since 2017, KeyBank has followed through on community commitments totaling nearly $2 billion in Northeast Ohio supporting affordable housing and community development projects; small business and home lending to low-to-moderate income individuals and communities; and transformative philanthropy.