To focus on building successful practices aimed at improving college fit and college readiness for underrepresented, underprepared and low-income students across the country, the U.S. Department of Education announced today the availability of $75 million for two new Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) competitions.
At the Obama Administration's College Opportunity Summit earlier this year, the Department made several commitments to support low-income students and help more of them pursue a path to college success. The GEAR UP program helps to ensure that all students achieve the necessary milestones that provide a pathway to a strong future. Today, the Department is acting on its pledge to focus this year's GEAR UP college preparation program on improving both college fit and readiness, so all students graduate from high school prepared for college without needing remedial courses and enroll in an institution that will help them maximize their success.
"College prep programs like GEAR UP can make all the difference in whether many young people from disadvantaged families can pursue a higher education," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "These grants will help provide the mentoring, resources and financial aid that will offer thousands of students the additional support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education."
In addition to focusing on college fit and readiness, the Department is tailoring this year's GEAR UP grants to focus on projects that are designed to serve and coordinate with a Promise Zone, which are high-poverty communities where the federal government has partnered and invested to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, and improve public safety. This year's GEAR UP program also places a priority on helping to improve students' non-cognitive skills and behaviors, including academic mindset, perseverance, motivation, and mastery of social and emotional skills that improve student success. The grants are part of the Department's focus on increasing the equity of opportunity in America's schools so that every child--no matter his or her zip code--has a clear path to the middle class. The nation's schools, teachers, and students have made significant gains, but despite this solid progress, wide gaps of opportunity and achievement continue to hurt many minority, low-income, and other underserved students.
Created in 1998, the grant program has provided funding for academic and related support services to eligible low-income middle and high school students, including students with disabilities, to help them obtain a high school diploma and succeed in college. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to offer services at high-poverty middle and high schools, as well as to provide college scholarships to low-income students.
GEAR UP grants currently fund 87 programs that serve approximately 420,000 middle and high school students across the country.
Applications are due by July 7, and grants will be awarded by the end of September. The Department will post further information on the GEAR UP Web page.