Say Yes Buffalo Receives $25 Million for Last-Dollar Scholarships

Say Yes Buffalo Receives $25 Million for Last-Dollar Scholarships

Say Yes Buffalo, a nonprofit focused on strengthening the economy in western New York State by investing in the education of Buffalo's future workforce, has received a $25 million matching gift from an anonymous local donor in support of a scholarship program for local high school graduates, the Buffalo News reports.

Made as part of a $100 million endowment campaign for the program, the gift must be matched by at least $25 million in local donations by 2023, with the remaining $50 million to be raised from a combination of local, state, and national sources.

Since its inaugural class in 2013, Say Yes Buffalo has awarded more than $7.4 million in scholarships to more than five thousand students who have graduated from either a Buffalo public school or a charter school in the city. Students who graduate are eligible for the "last dollar" scholarship for up to a year after graduation and are guaranteed 65 percent to 100 percent of the tuition costs at a state college or university depending on how long they have been enrolled in school in Buffalo.

The donor, who spoke with the Buffalo News, is a businessman in the region who built his wealth in the medical and tech industries and is now a venture capitalist in his early sixties. A native of western New York, he attended college out of state. While he worked summers to help pay for school, his father paid the bulk of his tuition, and he was able to graduate debt free.

"I find it inspiring and powerful that he is doing this with a desire to remain anonymous," Say Yes Buffalo executive director David Rust told the News. "He doesn't want any recognition and wants Say Yes Buffalo to continue to be a community-wide effort to support our students and not about one man or woman."