$8.7 Million in GEAR UP Grants Awarded to Help Middle-Schoolers Get on the Pathway to Achieve Success in College

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$8.7 Million in GEAR UP Grants Awarded to Help Middle-Schoolers Get on the Pathway to Achieve Success in College

July 31, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the award of $8.7 million for five grants under the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) that will help more than 11,000 at-risk students to prepare for college and receive the support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education.

"GEAR UP is the type of college prep program that provides essential academic and financial support to students who otherwise may not have access to college," Duncan said. "One of President Obama's goals is for America to again produce the highest number of college graduates in the world, which would end the cycle of poverty for many families. Early intervention is crucial to achieving higher success rates in high school, gaining access to college, and increasing completion rates for postsecondary institutions."

Kansas will receive $3 million for a state grant to benefit 2,500 children from foster care agencies and low income families. Wichita State University will be the lead agency over 14 statewide offices in carrying out the grant. The other four awards are partnership grants to school districts in Philadelphia, Pa. ($3.8 million) and Chama Valley, N.M. ($201,600); Rancho Santiago Community College in Santa Ana, Calif. ($800,000); and the San Diego State University Research Foundation ($911,201).

Both state and partnership grants are competitive six-year matching grant programs that target entire grades of students, partner with local organizations and businesses, and include matching local contributions and in-kind services. Grantees serve an entire group of students, usually beginning no later than seventh grade, and follow them throughout high school.

State grants include both an early intervention and scholarship component. Early intervention efforts are designed to increase college attendance and completion by raising low-income students' awareness of college and financial aid options, increasing their participation in academically challenging courses, and supporting them through the college admissions process. The scholarship component requires the state to maintain a financial assistance program for GEAR UP students to attend institutions of higher education.

Partnership projects must include at least one low-income middle school, one college or university, and two community or business organizations. Partners work together to provide students and their families with a range of support services needed to prepare for college, including mentoring, counseling, tutoring, and summer programs to succeed in higher level math and other gateway college preparatory courses, as well as information about college and financial aid options.

In addition to the five new grants announced today, GEAR UP is funding 204 continuation projects begun in the last five years that are providing these comprehensive support services to 743,000 middle and high school students.

FY 2009 GEAR UP Awards

State Grant

  • Wichita, Kansas
    Grantee: Wichita State University
    Year One Funding: $3,000,000
    Director's Name: Corinne Nilsen
    Phone Number: (316) 978-7814
    Email Address: Corinne.Nilsen@wichita.edu

Partnership Grants

  • Santa Ana, California
    Grantee: Rancho Santiago Community College
    Year One Funding: $800,000
    Director's Name: Lilia Tanakeyowma
    Phone Number: (714) 564-6971
    Email Address: Tanakeyowma_lilia@rsccd.org

  • San Diego, California
    Grantee: San Diego State University Research Foundation
    Year One Funding: $911,201
    Director's Name: Timothy Allen
    Phone Number: (615) 594-8317
    Email Address: tallen1@sandi.net

  • Chama, New Mexico
    Grantee: Chama Valley Independent School District
    Year One Funding: $201,600
    Director's Name: Dr. Rebecca Truelove
    Phone Number: (575) 588-7294
    Email Address: ktruelove@eschs.k12.nm.us

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Grantee: The School District of Philadelphia
    Year One Funding: $3,814,400
    Director's Name: Michael Sonkowsky
    Phone Number: (215) 400-4150
    Email Address: msonkowsky@philasd.org