GEAR UP Program Having Impact, Leaders Say

GEAR UP Program Having Impact, Leaders Say

Project administrators, program funders and national experts said at last month’s meeting that the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, a $200 million federal administration initiative to improve college success for low-income students, is having a strong impact on states and local communities.
The briefing was part of a national meeting that brought 900 project leaders to Leesburg, Va., to discuss the future of the federal initiative as well as new and more effective strategies for addressing the college-going needs of low-income students across the country. GEAR UP provides two types of competitive grants — partnership and state — supporting early college awareness and preparation at the state and local levels.
More than 700,000 disadvantaged students nationwide, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity, are being prepared academically to become competitive in the college admissions process.
Since its launch in 1999 as a partnership between high-poverty middle schools, universities, businesses and community-based organizations, GEAR UP has provided grants to 237 local partnerships and 28 states, including recently announced grants to 73 new partnerships and seven additional states.
In Houston, a local GEAR UP initiative has built off the success of the Ford Foundation-funded national model, Project GRAD USA.
“GEAR UP was designed skillfully by Congress to have complementary local and state initiatives to enable the program to build both top-down and bottom-up to serve a broad range of low-income students,” says L. Steven Zwerling, senior program officer of the Ford Foundation. “Early evidence indicates that many of the GEAR UP partnerships are helping to reduce the academic achievement gap.” 



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