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Wilson Foundation delivers $2 million to Say Yes

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Say Yes Buffalo is the latest recipient to receive funding from The Ralph Wilson Foundation. Mary Wilson delivered a $2 million gift Wednesday morning.

Wilson joined Say Yes leaders, Buffalo Public School officials and Mayor Byron Brown inside the Emerson School of Hospitality on West Chippewa Street. Wilson said Say Yes is making a "huge difference in a student's life.

"We are so happy to bring to the table $2 million to help with the scholarship program," she said.

Say Yes provides full tuition to all city public and charter school students. It also provides many "wrap around" programs to support a student's success. Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash called it a "fabulous day." 

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Mary Wilson appeared at the Emerson School of Hospitality in Buffalo Wednesday.

During the news conference there were a few references made to the recent report of higher graduation rates for the city. Wilson noted the district's graduation rates is on the rise, now at 61 percent. 

"The mark of a great city is the graduation rate of your young people," stated Wilson. 

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Emerson School students stand near Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash at announcement.

Say Yes calls the Wilson donation a "significant gift."  The grant now brings Say Yes' total fundraising to $22 million.

Alphonso O'Neil-White, Chair of Say Yes Buffalo, called it a "great day for Buffalo." 

"It's a red letter day, but more importantly, it is a great day for Buffalo's young people. We're gaining a new partner," noted O'Neil-White.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said this latest gift should increase the academic achievement of Buffalo students. 

"I want to thank Mary Wilson and the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for continuing the  phenomenal legacy of Mr. Wilson," said Brown. “Since 2012, almost 6 billion dollars of investment, and we want that prosperity that’s rising in our community to reach every section of our city, to reach every segment of our population, and for that to happen, our children have to receive a good education.”

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash called it a 'fabulous' day for the city and thanked Mrs. Wilson and the Foundation for their generation support to Say Yes.

The announcement was made at Emerson High School in downtown Buffalo. The school specializes in teaching culinary arts and food service. Emerson student Joshua Skutnik spoke about what this donation means to city school students.

“Say Yes is truly the backbone of many student’s lives as it provides much support to the transition to adulthood. Average people may not see the impact a scholarship can leave. A simple document defines everything a student is or ever will be. Without it, many high students will not be college students," said Skutnik. 

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