Pre-K Readiness Program for Three-Year-Olds Marks Milestone Completion of Pilot Year; Enrollment for First Full Program Year Underway
Buffalo, N.Y. – August 16, 2023 – Say Yes Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools celebrated the advancement of 22 “Little Scholars” into Pre-K after their completion of the six-week Say Yes Little Scholar summer session. With this graduation, the pilot year of Say Yes Little Scholars is complete and enrollment for September 2023 is in full swing.
Initially divided into two classrooms at West Hertel Academy and School #90 (formerly Dr. Charles R. Drew Annex #59A), the pilot opened in March 2023. In September 2023, six classrooms will be opening in six different Buffalo Public Schools with a total expected enrollment capacity of 84 “Little Scholars.” The sites selected to host “Little Scholars”classrooms are as follows:
- PS 27 Hillery Park Academy, 73 Pawnee Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14210
- PS 54 Dr. George Blackman ECC, 2358 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214
- PS 90 (formerly 59A), 50 A Street, Buffalo, NY 14211
- PS 93 Southside Elementary,430 Southside Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14210
- PS 94 West Hertel Academy, 489 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14207
- PS 99 Stanley Makowski ECC, 1095 Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14208
Interested parties may begin the enrollment process by completing the Eligibility Screener at www.bit.ly/enrollsyls. Children must be three or turning three to be eligible. Families must also be eligible for day care assistance through the Erie County Department of SocialServices. (Current income guidelines can be found here.)
“The Buffalo Public School District is beyond excited by the opportunity to enroll young scholars into a formal education program with the intent of accelerating their learning,” said Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tonja M. Williams. “This program is a game changer! Generating ideas and actualizing this plan with our strategic partner, Say Yes Buffalo and Erie County is an example of intentional, deliberate, and collective work that the District will continue to exhibit with school-based partners, families, and community stakeholders, to promote positivity and change to achieve academic excellence.”
“Our team is thrilled to partner with Buffalo Public Schools and Erie County to deliver high-quality instruction to our youngest learners,” said Say Yes Buffalo CEO David Rust. “We know that improving educational outcomes and benchmarks at these early stages are crucial for future success, and we’re heavily invested in doing all we can to strengthen existing cradle-to-career pathways for Buffalo students.”
“Early childhood programs are critical in shaping the mental and physical development of our children,” said Erie County Deputy Executive Lisa Chimera. “We know that inequality starts at birth, but the impact is lifelong. Say Yes Little Scholars has the great potential to support our youngest learners as they work toward long-term social, cognitive, emotional, and physical benchmarks. By providing high-quality education at an early age, we encourage and support future achievement.”
All sites have been carefully chosen to open in neighborhoods where the number of children in need of an early learning and care option exceeds the number of seats available. Transportation is not included at this time for Say Yes Little Scholars, making households in neighboring communities ideal candidates for this program. All Say Yes Little Scholars will be enrolled Buffalo Public Schools students and will join existing District Pre-Kindergarten classrooms in their same school buildings upon completion of the program.
Additionally, Say Yes Buffalo has partnered with Erie County to extend childcare subsidy funds for students. Students must qualify for these funds to enter the Say Yes Little Scholars program. Full eligibility and enrollment information for fall 2023 can be found at sayyesbuffalo.org. Enrollment is currently open for fall 2023.
The Say Yes Little Scholars program anticipates adding a total of 84 seats to the District’s current capacity for three-year-olds in addition to the pre-existing program at Bennett Park Montessori Center #32. As the program expands, leadership will seek to strengthen partnerships within our community of early learning and care professionals.
To date, three Say Yes Buffalo alumni (BPS or charter school graduates who received the Say Yes Buffalo scholarship for postsecondary education) have been hired to join the Say Yes Little Scholar team, exemplifying the dynamic and generational investment being made by Buffalo Public Schools and Say Yes Buffalo.
All Say Yes Little Scholar classrooms will feature a unique wall mural conceived and installed by Buffalo artist Edreys Wajed. The murals will incorporate existing motifs of the school’s culture and/or neighborhood features.