This week’s speaker was David Rust, Executive Director from the Say Yes to Education organization.
The Buffalo community’s commitment to providing a tuition scholarship for a postsecondary education—be it a trade certificate, 2-year or 4-year degree— to every graduate of the city’s public and charter schools is what attracted David Rust to lead Say Yes to Education’s work in Buffalo since the Summer of 2012.
Since taking the post in Summer 2012, he has overseen the implementation of one of the most significant community transformation efforts undertaken in the region’s history. Through leveraging the promise of the locally funded scholarship program, Say Yes Buffalo scholars are eligible to attend more than 100 private and public institutions, including Harvard, Duke, Medaille, Northwestern, the University at Buffalo, and many more. Using the power of these free tuition scholarships, Mr. Rust’s team has brought together private and public sector partners to engage in action to reform the city’s public education system and how services and supports are delivered to low-income families.
Prior to joining Say Yes Buffalo, Mr. Rust served as Deputy Commissioner for Youth Services/Social Services for Erie County where he managed a staff of 120 with a $14-million budget, and a primary focus on juvenile detention and diversion services, runaway-homeless youth, and funding community based positive youth programs. He also served the Department of Social Services on numerous interdepartmental projects with county agencies such as Family Court, Mental Health and Probation, and numerous community based collaborations for youth.
Prior to Erie County government, Mr. Rust was the program director for the Youth Character Development Foundation, a non-profit foundation of Dale Carnegie of WNY and also as associate director, dean of students and resident director for The Francis E. Kelly Oxford Program at Somerville College in Oxford, Great Britain.
He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University where he earned both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Business Administration Marketing/Management from the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Mr. Rust also volunteers his time with numerous youth-based agencies throughout the City of Buffalo.
Highlights of his presentation included:
- Have raised $19 million for scholarships
- Say Yes to Education pays for tuition
- A wide range of institutions partner with Say Yes to Education, including UB, Buff State, RIT, RPI, and many Ivy League schools.
- Technical institutes are also part of the program
- Students have to meet the admission requirements of the partner institutions
- Students must meet the school’s requirements in terms of minimum QPA’s and behavior.
- The partnership with the Buffalo community is wide and deep with an Operating Board consisting of educational, political, and business leaders.