U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced the award of $82 million for 41 grants under Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) that will help 116,000 at-risk students prepare for college.
Duncan announced the grantees in New York City at the launch of American Graduate Day, a public awareness and community engagement program to celebrate the work of individuals and groups across the country that are helping students stay on track to college and career successes.
“GEAR UP partnerships and state grants are inspiring examples of communities taking a stand for excellence and equity in education, investing in student success, and creating a culture that helps all young people achieve,” said Duncan. “I commend all the recipients for their relentless efforts to help students realize their potential through college readiness, access and completion.”
Two types of grants are being awarded – $51,420,120 for 31 partnership grants in 19 states, and $31,264,008 for 10 state grants to Alabama, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Here in Minnesota, Special School District No. 1 of Minneapolis received an award of $2,048,000.
Both state and partnership awards are competitive, six or seven-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.
This year, applicants were encouraged to address how they plan to increase postsecondary success, implement college- and career-ready standards, and work in conjunction with Promise Zones – places where the federal government has partnered with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.
State grants include both a required activities component and a scholarship component. The required activities component seeks 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 41 new grants announced, GEAR UP is funding 87 continuation projects begun in the last five years that are providing these comprehensive support services to approximately 450,000 middle and high school students.