Say Yes Guilford is an educational nonprofit committed to providing access to support services and scholarships designed to prepare Guilford County Schools’ students for success in college, career, and life.
“Our whole mission is centered around giving students access to support services and scholarships,” said President and CEO Wendy Poteat. “We’re trying to make sure Guilford County students are ready for college, a career, or life – whether they choose a four-year degree, a two-year degree, or a certificate program.”
Poteat joined Say Yes in 2019, at the time when it became a local nonprofit. During her time at the organization, she deepened its reach with Guilford County Schools to offer tutoring and other supports to promote success starting in elementary school.
“While Ready for School, Ready for Life focuses on prenatal to age eight and setting kids up for success, I see our work being part of that continuum,” Poteat said. “Say Yes Guilford takes up at that transition point in third grade to help make sure they are proficient in reading and supported through middle and high school. It’s a continuum of care.”
When the pandemic hit, a new opportunity to help students arose. Say Yes Guilford began offering virtual tutoring to alleviate learning loss to students now learning remotely.
“We offer a virtual tutoring prep platform from kindergarten to eighth grade with volunteer tutors. We thought we might offer it for one semester, but as the pandemic lingered, we had families asking us to keep it going,” Poteat said. “Ready Ready and The Duke Endowment helped us with funding, so we can continue to offer this support to students.”
Poteat says close partnerships with Guilford County Schools and community organizations help Say Yes offer support to GCS’ 70,000 students. “While we may be best known for providing last-dollar scholarships, more of our work is focused on listening and asking what families in Guilford County Schools really need. That’s how we can identify gaps and offer services that families say they want.”
Say Yes is using that information to develop its new strategies. One Poteat is particularly excited about is bringing career technical education (CTE) exposure to students starting in middle school. “We want sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to know more about the career academies and the amazing CTE opportunities available so they can plan better for their high school registration in eighth grade.”
When it comes to high school, Poteat says her staff is focused on equipping students to follow their best path and eliminating finance as a barrier. Say Yes offers a variety of coaching for students, such as one on one consultations that explore career or college options, SAT/ACT prep classes, individual scholarship counseling, or financial aid workshops, to name a few.
In addition to her work at Say Yes Guilford, Poteat has served on Ready Ready’s Ages 3-5 Active Reading strategy team. “It’s a tenet of servant leadership when you think about helping the community or helping people. That’s what I love about Ready Ready and being involved with this strategy team,” she said. “There are so many voices in the room and communities being heard. We must work through these ideas to engage active reading through different experiences and connections.”
We work with more than 100 community organizations. You can see the extensive list on our website. If you’re one of our partners and would like to be featured, please contact Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications.