Say Yes to Education Inc. announced this week that Duke and four other top private colleges were joining the national non-profit's higher education compact that helps young people in low-income school districts to apply to college, pay for it and graduate.
"Say Yes to Education aligns with Duke University's goals of creating opportunities and reducing barriers for all students," Stephen Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at Duke, said in a statement. "We believe that education at member schools in the Say Yes Compact is a transformative experience that should not be denied because of financial circumstances."
Duke, Harvard, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Georgetown join a group of more than three-dozen private colleges and universities that promise full tuition support to accepted Say Yes scholars whose annual family income is at or below $75,000. Students attending Say Yes compact institutions whose family income is above $75,000 receive annual $5,000 scholarships from Say Yes itself, in addition to financial aid based on need from those colleges and universities.
The organization, which is based in New York City, serves nearly 65,000 children in kindergarten through 12th grade in Syracuse, Buffalo and three other Northeastern cities.
"Society benefits from the investments in our best and most ambitious students, regardless of their background," Nowicki said.
George Weiss, who founded Say Yes in 1987, made the announcement Monday.
"The Say Yes Compact is about hope," Weiss said, "and with the addition of these five terrific universities to our already impressive list, their commitment helps send the message of hope to our young men and women."