Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) has awarded three college access incentive subgrants totaling $49,996 to Oklahoma City area community- and faith-based organizations to help students and families prepare for college.
The Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, St. John Christian Care Center in Oklahoma City and Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City will work with community partners to expand programs and services that help raise college aspirations and encourage student participation in Oklahoma’s Promise.
Statewide, Oklahoma GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, awarded six subgrants totaling $107,996 through the Raising College Aspirations Community-Based Organization (CBO) Incentive Grant Program.
The main objective for all the grantees is to facilitate enrollment in Oklahoma’s Promise, a scholarship program that allows high school students from families whose annual income is $50,000 or less and who meet certain academic and conduct requirements to earn free college tuition.
“The CBO Incentive Grant Program was implemented after a pilot test revealed a strong link between college preparation levels and student involvement with community- and faith-based organizations,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Since the pilot in 2004, results have proven the grants have successfully inspired more students to prepare for and attend college.”
For example, at three Oklahoma City high schools targeted by CBO grants last year, Capitol Hill, U.S. Grant and Southeast, projections indicated that 325 students would be enrolled in Oklahoma’s Promise during the grant period. Even better than expected, grant partners successfully enrolled a total of 583 students, exceeding initial projections by 258 students or 79 percent.
GEAR UP will continue to target Oklahoma City-area students and families with focused CBO grant activities and expects to achieve an even greater increase in Oklahoma’s Promise enrollment this year.
Specifically, the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, working with Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Community College, will utilize college interns to distribute and promote information on preparing for college and Oklahoma’s Promise to students and families from three high schools – Capitol Hill, Southeast and U.S. Grant. The VIVA Oklahoma’s Promise outreach coordinators will make presentations to students during assemblies, make personal contact with individual students and set up appointments to discuss college options to both parents and students. In addition to participating in college nights, the program staff will set up booths with college prep and Oklahoma’s Promise information at south Oklahoma City retail stores one Saturday per month.
St. John Christian Care Center in Oklahoma City will partner with Frederick Douglass High School and the University of Central Oklahoma for “eXcell,” which will provide mentoring sessions, financial aid awareness seminars, ACT test prep workshops, parent/teacher meetings and college and career fairs. In addition, two project liaisons will conduct Oklahoma’s Promise enrollment and retention activities on the high school campus on a monthly basis. Also, representatives of the program will attend sporting events during basketball and football seasons to recruit Oklahoma’s Promise participants and generate parental support.
Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City will partner with Rogers Middle School, Star Spencer High School and Rose State College for the “Spencer College Bound Youth Program.” Tutoring sessions will be the springboard for college prep discussion and enrollment in Oklahoma’s Promise. In addition, students will be given the opportunity to participate in preparing for college sessions on the importance of academic readiness, applying for financial aid and career exploration. Other sessions will encourage students to make good grades, attend class and have a positive attitude. Additionally, students will go on college campus tours, attend life skills seminars and career fairs, and hear from guest speakers.
“ Oklahoma City is fortunate to have community organizations dedicated to improving opportunities for all its citizens,” said State Regents’ Chairman Bill W. Burgess Jr . “These community leaders fully understand that a college education is vital to a better future, not only for the individual, but for everyone who lives here. We are especially proud that three outstanding Oklahoma City organizations have joined the effort to help students and their families prepare for college.”
Other 2007-2008 CBO grant recipients include: Community Action Project of Tulsa County; Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa; and Fellowship of Women in Christ in Ada.