Federal GEAR UP Program May Need Bailing Out
T he federal GEAR UP project may need a quick infusion of money if it wants to meet its grant obligations, say advocates seeking more funds for the two-year-old project. The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs effort needs at least $229 million to cover all allotments from grants the federal government awarded in 1999 and 2000, says Corye Barbour, legislative director for the United States Student Association. Yet the Republican Congress wants to earmark only $200 million in fiscal 2001.
“We’re really falling short on GEAR UP,” Barbour says. If the GOP proposal would take effect, “we’d be cutting people off who already receive services.”
President Clinton has proposed $325 million for the program in 2001 to help promote its expansion. Under GEAR UP, states and communities receive grants to work with disadvantaged youngsters as early as middle school with the goal of preparing them for college. The U.S. Department of Education just awarded new grants for the program in mid-August (see Black Issues, Oct. 12).
But a longtime sponsor of the program is optimistic that the White House and Congress will work out a deal that increases GEAR UP funds beyond the current $200 million.
“It’s going to be raised,” says Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., a prime architect of the program. At Black Issues press time, administration officials and Congress were negotiating final details on the federal education budget. Fattah says he is confident that lawmakers will allot at least $300 million to the outreach program in their final bill.
States receiving GEAR UP funds include Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Texas, the home state of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, also received a state grant in 1999. Grants under GEAR UP can last up to five years.
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