Since it was founded the SCSD Educational Foundation has supported projects in the community that have a positive impact on young people and residents of Syracuse.
These diverse programs often are the result of individuals, institutions and/or companies extending a helping hand where there is a need, They are initiatives that are based on improving academic performance, graduation rates, and are often formed by collaborations between education, government, business, and community leaders. The Educational Foundation is an enthusiastic supporter of specific projects when they address the goals of the Syracuse City School District.
The Wladis family Hats and Gloves distribution began 20 years ago when George Wladis read in the local newspaper that students at Seymour Elementary School were coming to school without hats and gloves, making it difficult for them to begin the day. George Wladis called Jaime Alicea, who at that time was the principal at Seymour, to ask how many hats and gloves the students needed for the winter.
George showed up at Seymour the next day with boxes containing sets of 500 hats and gloves. George’s sons Mark and Steven have carried on the tradition and have grown the program to more than 11,000 hats and gloves, giving them away to every elementary school student in the City of Syracuse School District. They began running the program several years ago when they saw how important it was to their dad George, who passed away in July, and what it meant to the children. This year the giveaway was supported by donations from more than 60 individuals and businesses throughout the community with eight people knitting additional hats and mittens. Everyone that donates is given the opportunity to assist in the distribution and have the chance to see the direct impact of their generosity.
Say Yes Syracuse is a landmark collaboration that brings the Syracuse City School District, Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College, Say Yes Higher Education Compact partner colleges, Say Yes to Education, Inc., the Syracuse Teachers’ Association, the Syracuse Association of Administrators and Supervisors, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, the American Institutes for Research, and a diverse group of Syracuse area corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations together to organize people, time, money and resources to provide holistic, year-round support to Syracuse City School District students their K-12 years and beyond. Say Yes to Education and its partners believe every student can graduate high school and college when given the proper supports, resources, and opportunities.
Say Yes provides comprehensive supports, including the promise of free college tuition to one of nearly 100 colleges and universities for those who meet residency, graduation and admission requirements. These supports are aligned with what research indicates is needed to enable every child in the program to achieve his or her potential.
The Say Yes promise and supports begin when a child enters kindergarten and continue through high school and beyond. The range of services Say Yes offers across its Chapters include everything from extended day and year programming, mentoring, tutoring, and school-day academic support to family outreach, scholarships, and social work/psychological services. Additionally, Say Yes partners provide high-quality health care and legal assistance. These services help to create a positive, sustainable framework for each student’s academic experience, one that encourages and rewards continued effort.
Although there are Say Yes chapters located in Cambridge, MA (alumni chapter only); Hartford, CT; New York City, NY, and Philadelphia, PA, the Syracuse chapter is unique in that it is the first Say Yes chapter to embrace an entire city school district! Buffalo, NY became the second Say Yes chapter to partner with an entire city school district in December 2011.
The Syracuse Soap Box Derby is an annual event which creates a healthy competitive learning opportunity for Syracuse City School students and encourages interest and hands-on involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In 2012 the SCSD Educational Foundation partnered with District Schools in an initiative to enhance students learning and mentoring through the use of Soap Box Derby racing. Grades 3-10 students in partnership with an adult mentor / coach assembled and competed in the annual Syracuse Soap Box Derby Race held in June. Through this experience students reinforced their STEM learning through an authentic competitive engineering project and develop a healthy and supportive relationship with a role model adult. This grant was designed to support mentor / mentee relationships through the design, assembly and racing of a Soap Box Derby car. 13 Soap Box Derby cars were purchased for 8 schools through successful grant applications. Each car had SCSD students actively engaged in all aspects of its design, construction, testing and competition.
The SCSD Educational Foundation is an avid supporter of the Syracuse City School District ‘s mentoring program and has committed itself to working with community leaders, corporate sponsors, colleges, and individuals throughout Central New York to build broad support of this program. The Syracuse City School District Mentoring Program offers a unique blend of mentoring opportunities through established collaborations with a variety of agencies and the Syracuse University GEAR UP Program. The goal is to offer an adult mentor to every student in the SCSD beginning at the 6th grade. Mentors will work with students from across the district and from every middle school.