New GEAR UP Awards Announced will help 116,000 Students


U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today 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 to prepare for college and receive the support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education.

Secretary 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 who 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,” Secretary Duncan said. “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.

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.

Examples of this year’s grants include:

  • Berea College in Kentucky, which is already a recipient of our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhood grants and is part of one of the five Promise Zones, is receiving about $5.5 million to partner a range of postsecondary institutions and key organizations with high-poverty school districts. They will serve almost 7,000 students in 37 schools by providing a comprehensive set of services–to parents, students and schools–that support a sustainable college-going culture.

  • Northeastern Illinois University and Chicago Public Schools District 299 will use its $5.78 million grant to transform the way schools prepare some 7,229 disadvantaged students for high school and success in college.; Beginning in 36 elementary and middle schools that feed into 14 high-needs Chicago public high schools, and partnering with eleven colleges and community based organizations, the project has three objectives: to increase academic preparation and performance of GEAR UP students in higher level math, English and science courses; increase high school graduation and college-going rate; and increase students’ own educational expectations by deepening their knowledge about the benefits of postsecondary education and the availability of student aid.

  • St. Johns University in New York City, N.Y., will use its grant of nearly $450,000 to improve the educational outcomes for 650 low-income, predominantly Hispanic and African-American students. Fourteen additional partners are collaborating on the project: two local education agencies, seven community-based organizations, one state agency, one college program, and three businesses – matching the federal grant dollar for dollar – to provide comprehensive mentoring, enriched technology, college awareness workshops, residential summer programs and a dual enrollment program. The goal is to increase high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment and decrease the need for remediation once students are in college.

  • The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is receiving $3.4 million to use a collective-impact model that will partner colleges, businesses and non-profits, among others, with three urban school districts. The goal is to increase student achievement for nearly 3,000 students through data-driven decisions, develop a sustainable college-going culture, and establish a shared community vision for equitable college access and success.

  • State Council of Higher Education for Virginia will use its $3.4 million grant to help nearly 6,000 middle school students attending some 29 middle schools, including 300 homeless students.Through its partnership with school districts, colleges, non-profits, and business, the project will provide a comprehensive set of services to improve college readiness and increase college enrollment. The project will also follow students through their first year of college by providing mentoring and tutoring to ease their transition to postsecondary education.

In addition to the 41 new grants announced today, 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.


Note to Editors: Attached are the GEAR UP grant awards, alphabetical by state, with contact information and award amount. State grants are marked with a double asterisk **.

FY 2014 Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)

Alabama Birmingham City Schools, Birmingham — $2,919,674 Spencer Horn,, (205) 231-4674

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, — $3,500,000** Lawrence Tyson,, (205) 975-2491

Arizona Graham County Community College, Thatcher — $1,113,600 Carter McEuen,, (928)428-8275

California YPI Charter Schools, Arleta —$2,316,000 Jesse Noonan,, (213)688-2802

Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation, Arcata —$443,614 Vikash Lakahni,, (707)826-5381

Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles — $1,911,200 Micaela Vazques Hahn,, (213)241-0145

University Corporation at Monterey Bay —$900,795 Joy Brittain,, (831) 582-3960

University Corporation at Monterey Bay —$1,209,199 Joy Brittain,, (831) 582-3960

University Enterprises Corporation at Cal State San Bernardino —$2,406,741 Stephen Villa Senor,, (909)537-3200

The Regents of the University of California, Santa Cruz —$467,860 Yesenia Cervantes,, (831)459-1831

Colorado Weld County School District, Greeley —$714,859 David Reyes,, (970) 348-6040

Florida Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa —$534,400 Lenegar Jazheel,, (813)272-4828

Hawaii University of Hawaii, Honolulu —$480,300 Amy Agbayani,, (808)956-4567

Illinois Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago —$5,783,200 Wendy Stack,, (312) 563-7232

East St. Louis School District #189, East St. Louis —$747,135 Demean Vaughn,, (618) 646-3056

Iowa Iowa College Student Aid Commission, Des Moines —$3,206,922** Christina Sibouih,, (515) 725-3101

Kansas University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., Lawrence —$320,000 Ngondi Kamatuka,, (785)864-3401

Wichita State University, Wichita —$740,000 Riccardo Harris,, (316) 978-7810

Wichita State University, Wichita —$740,000 Victor Chavez,, (316) 978-7800

Kentucky Berea College, Berea —$5,513,600 Dreama Gentry,, (859) 985-3853

Louisiana Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette —$1,888,723 Traci Aucoin,, (337) 521-7165

Maine University of Maine, Farmington —$2,970,042** Kathryn Markovchick,, (207) 685-3171

Maryland Maryland State Department of Education, Baltimore —$2,176,389** Mary Howlett-Brandon,, (410) 767-0367

Minnesota Special School District No. 1, Minneapolis —$2,048,000 Eric Molho,, (612) 668-0549

New York Higher Education Services Corporation, Albany —$3,500,000** Jennifer Dwire,, (518) 474-4060

St. John’s University, Queens —$442,729 Yvette Morgan,, (718) 990-2532

North Carolina Appalachian State University Boone —$2,748,792 Jennifer Wilson-Kearse,, (828) 262-8016

Appalachian State University Boone —$1,436,840 Jennifer Wilson-Kearse,, (828) 262-8016

Ohio Ohio Board of Regents, Columbus —$3,500,000** Rebecca Watts,, (614) 466-0884

Oklahoma University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond —$719,200 Myron Pope,, (405) 974-5370

Oregon Oregon State University, Corvallis —$2,600,000** Stephanie Carnahan,, (541) 346-5761

School District 1J Multnomah County, Portland —$1,207,200 Angela Nusom,, (503) 916-5404

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Harrisburg —$3,400,000** Sandi Sheppeard,, (717) 703-7238

School District of Philadelphia —$4,370,400 Alexandre Robinson-Rogers,, (215) 400-6850

South Carolina Richland School District Two, Columbia —$1,377,206 Arlene Bakutes,, (803) 738-3316

Texas Desoto Independent School District, Desoto —$1,125,557 Debbye Garner,, (972) 274-8212

Texas A&M University-Kingsville —$1,043,996 Mary Gonzalez,, (361) 593-2129

Virginia State Council of Higher Education, Richmond —$3,410,360)** Paula Fisher,, (804) 225-2612

Washington Highline Public School, Burien —$1,156,000 (206) 631-3045

Central Washington University, Ellensburg —$2,593,600 Julie Guggino,, (509) 963-2640

West Virginia West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Charleston —$3,000,000** Adam Green,, (304) 558-0655

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