Children and Families First: An Evaluation of the Philadelphia Say Yes to Education ProgramReport as inadecuate

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Research for Action

Say Yes to Education is a scholarship guarantee program that pledges to young children and their families a fully paid, post-secondary education along with academic and social supports that follow children throughout their elementary and high school careers. Since its inception in 1987, the Say Yes to Education program has "adopted" cohorts of students in Philadelphia, Hartford, and Cambridge. In fall 2002, Say Yes to Education (Say Yes) invited Research for Action (RFA) to conduct an evaluation of its Philadelphia chapter's work. The Philadelphia chapter's current cohort was unique in two respects: (1) the children were selected from Head Start programs, thus becoming the youngest Say Yes students ever, and (2) significant supports (scholarships for parents and siblings) were promised to families of Say Yes students. This holistic approach emerged from a growing recognition that each Say Yes student is part of a unique family system in which educational opportunities for all can contribute to making education a family priority. This report suggests that Say Yes derives its power to improve children?s lives through three interrelated traits: (1) a relational model of working with children and families to build caring and trusting connections; (2) a holistic approach to the family that increases academic proficiency; and (3) an ecological vision of the child as embedded in the spheres of home and school. The track record of Say Yes staff in building and maintaining strong relationships with parents and children is impressive and could serve as a model for many urban teachers and school personnel. Appended are: (1) Methodology; (2) Model of Theory in Use; and (3) Quantitative Findings of Test Performance, Attendance, and Behavior.

Descriptors: Siblings, Scholarships, Educational Opportunities, Child Care, Disadvantaged Youth, School Personnel, Holistic Approach, Child Care, Parents, Federal Programs, Parent Child Relationship, Student School Relationship, Young Children

Research for Action, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Web site:; Tel: 215-823-2500; Fax: 215-823-2510.

Author: Gold, Eva; Hartmann, Tracey; Lewis, Kristine


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