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August 21, 2012 - Youngstown, OH

Youngstown Foundation launches Y-STAR Program

With an initial commitment of three million dollars, The Youngstown Foundation has crafted an innovative and exciting program designed to address critical academic and financial challenges faced by the Youngstown City Schools’ students as they consider post-secondary education.

In May 2010, The Youngstown Foundation began conducting research on scholarship programs, financial aid and post-secondary education enrollment. According to Jan Strasfeld, the Foundation’s executive director, one significant finding stood out. “The biggest financial challenge for low-income students to attend college is filling the gap between financial aid and the real costs of college tuition and mandatory fees such as parking and books,” she stated. Ranging anywhere from $200 to $3,000, these “last dollars” can often be the determining factor as to whether a student attends college or not.

To help students in the Youngstown City Schools fill that funding gap, The Youngstown Foundation unveiled the Y-STAR program at a Thursday morning news conference. Commencing with the Class of 2016, all students enrolled in the Youngstown City Schools have the opportunity to receive up to a total of $3,000 of “last dollar” funding.

On hand at the news conference was Dr. Connie Hathorn, superintendent of Youngstown City Schools who praised the program. “High school students excel when they receive immediate positive feed back and short-term rewards. The Y-STAR program offers that type of support,” he said.

Dr. Cynthia Anderson, President of Youngstown State University expressed her gratitude to the Foundation, stating that Y-STAR will make the dream of a college education a reality for many low-income students who might not otherwise have that opportunity. Eastern Gateway Community College President Dr. Laura Meeks agreed. “Post-secondary funding for need-based, low-income students has been cut back significantly,” she stated. “This unique program goes a long way to offset some of that funding shortfall.”

The award amounts are based on the number of years each student completes in the program. Funds can only be utilized for attendance at Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College.

Drs. Hathorn, Anderson and Meeks all believe that Y-STAR will increase high school graduation rates as well as local college application and admission rates. Jan Strasfeld said that additional goals of the program are encouraging student achievement, reducing high school exit rates and “encouraging families to value education.”

Students may enroll in the Y-STAR program as a high school freshman, sophomore or junior. This program commences with the graduating class of 2016; therefore, the first enrollment opportunity will be available for incoming freshmen for the academic year 2012/2013. To accumulate funds, students must be enrolled in the Y-STAR program on an annual basis and must complete the Y-STAR Agreement annually with signatures of student and parent(s) or legal guardian. They must meet all requirements for graduation from the Youngstown City School system within four years with at least a 2.0 GPA.

About The Youngstown Foundation
The Youngstown Foundation is the largest community foundation in the Valley with over eighty-seven million dollars in assets. Founded in 1918, it is the 4th oldest in the country and ranked in the top 100 nationally. It is a locally administered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which distributes over $4.1 million in grants annually. Additional information is available at www.YoungstownFoundation.org.


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