Welcome to the Business Journal Archives
Search for articles below, or continue to the all new BusinessJournalDaily.com now.
Y-Star Launched to Boost High School Students
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Foundation, in concert with city schools, Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College, introduced Y-Star Tuesday, a program to help all students in city schools stay in high school and attend college after they graduate.
The foundation has committed $3 million for “last-dollar” expenses, explained the executive director of the Youngstown Foundation, Jan Strasfeld. Qualified students who graduate from Youngstown City Schools will be awarded up to $3,000 to pay for tuition at either YSU or Eastern Gateway, textbooks, parking fees and mandatory classroom-related fees, she explained.
Strasfeld defined “last dollar” as the sum that constitutes “the difference between whether they attend college or not.” Y-Star is “an initiative that will ensure all Youngstown City Schools graduates can go on to college.”
The program begins with this year’s ninth graders (the class of 2016) and seeks to ensure that those who enroll in Y-Star and sign an agreement to meet its standards (both students and their parents must sign) will attend either Eastern Gateway or YSU without incurring debt to attend classes.
“They must meet all requirements for graduation from the Youngstown City School system within four years with at least a 2.0 GPA,” Strasfeld said.
The program should prove invaluable in boosting enrollment at both the community college and YSU, their presidents, Laura Meeks and Cynthia Anderson, agreed.
“This one more example of how our Valley comes together,” Anderson said. “Financial challenges [students face to stay in college] are a big one” and Y-Star should help any graduate of city schools continue his education.
Meeks hailed Y-Star as “absolutely a lasting legacy.” Recalling her days in college, the president of the community college said, “I know what it’s like to worry [about finances]. So [Youngstown parents] won’t have to worry any more.” If students live at home and take most of their meals there, “They can go to college for almost nothing,” she elaborated. Y-Star should allow them to avoid taking out student loans and the repayment after they graduate from college.
The initiative, said city schools superintendent Connie Hathorn, reinforces “the sense of urgency” he has been reinforcing among students that not only to they stay in school but excel academically.
Those attending to hear the announcement and endorse the Y-Star initiative included Mayor Charles Sammarone and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17 Ohio.
Also on hand were city councilmen, staff from the congressman’s office and business leaders including Ted Schmidt, president of the Mahoning Valley Region of PNC Bank, and Mike Garvey, president and CEO of M7 Technologies.
The initiative, more than two years in development, is based on the Kalamazoo Promise. In explaining how Y-Star came about, Strasfeld related the research the Youngstown Foundation, Hathorn and YSU and Eastern Gateway conducted.
Their concerns were keeping students in city schools as they left eighth grade to enter high school, “a big challenge,” Strasfeld noted.
“High school students excel when they received immediate positive feedback and short-term rewards,” she continued, then stressed that short-term rewards exclude T-shirts and gift cards to fast-food restaurants.
The biggest challenge, though, seems to be getting minority students to believe in themselves, that they can take advantage of the educational opportunities and excel, she said. And if they don’t pursue college or junior college immediately after graduating from high school, “It is highly unlikely that they will ever pursue it,” she said.
Moreover, too many are convinced they lack the financial wherewithal even when they meet or exceed all other criteria, a perception reinforced by cutbacks in funding for “need-based low-income students.” Y-Star, she said, is designed to both boost confidence and provide the funds students think is unavailable.
To participate, high school students in city schools must:
- Reside in Youngstown.
- Stay in Y-Star once they enroll.
- Attend city schools at least two years.
- Complete the Y-Star agreement annually. So must their parents.
- Complete all requirements to graduate within four years and achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 (all C’s). This includes identifying their career or education goals after graduating from YSU or Eastern Gateway and committing to attend one of those institutions.
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.