Colleges and universities should prepare for a quick start of the
new federal GEAR-UP for College program, says U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah
(D-Pa.), one of the program’s chief architects.
The U.S. Education Department should begin soliciting applications
this winter, Fattah told Black Issues recently. Based on his recent
discussions with ED leaders, Fattah also said the government will soon
create a GEAR-UP office and appoint a GEAR-UP coordinator.
Approved in the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, GEAR-UP
will support partnerships among colleges, middle schools, and high
schools to educate youngsters about college. It will target schools at
which at least half of the students receive free or reduced-price
school lunches, part of a formula to focus on low-income neighborhoods.
Unlike some outreach programs, however, GEAR-UP is open to all
students at these schools — not just a select group identified as high
“We want to raise the entire aspirations of a community,” Fattah said.
As part of the GEAR-UP process, these children will receive
certificates outlining all the federal aid available to them for
college. Partners also will provide mentors and other academic
According to Fattah, philanthropists have launched similar projects on a much-smaller scale in some communities.
“I’ve had one of these programs in my district. I know they will work,” he said.
After completing preliminary work, ED likely will publish a request
for GEAR-UP applications in the Federal Register. For 1999, Congress
and the White House have set aside $120 million to launch the program.
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