Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) has awarded 12 subgrants totaling $152,000 to Oklahoma community- and faith-based organizations to help students and families prepare for college through programs that provide access to financial aid, localized mentoring and tutoring services, college campus tours, individualized counseling and academic planning.
The subgrantees are the Community Action Project of Tulsa County; the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa; the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; St. John Christian Care Center, Oklahoma City; Fellowship of Women in Christ, Ada; Building a Nation Through Village Concepts, Oklahoma City; the Norman Economic Development Coalition; Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Oklahoma City; Vertical Life Initiatives, Tulsa; the Believers in Boswell Community Coalition; and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Theta Upsilon Omega Chapter, Lawton.
The subgrantees will work with community partners to expand programs and services that help raise college aspirations and encourage student participation in Oklahoma’s Promise.
Oklahoma GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, awarded the grants through the Raising College Aspirations Community- and Faith-Based Organization (CBO) Incentive Grant Program.
The main objective for all subgrantees 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.
“As we move into the fourth year of this program, we continue to be extremely impressed with the achievements of our community partners and their involvement in preparing students for college,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Every year they have exceeded our expectations, and we are encouraged that this success is helping more students attend college.”
For example, at three Oklahoma City high schools targeted by CBO subgrants last year, Capitol Hill, U.S. Grant and Southeast, projections indicated that 660 students would enroll in Oklahoma’s Promise during the subgrant period. Even better than expected, subgrant partners successfully enrolled 675 students.
"We are proud of all our CBO subgrantees and the work they are doing. They understand that when community- and faith-based organizations make an effort to help students prepare for college all of Oklahoma is on the road to a better future,” said Johnson.
Specifically, the Fellowship of Women in Christ will partner with East Central University and Ada Junior High School for “BEST Educational Program – Bridge to Excellence for Students in Transition.” BEST will provide college preparation resources and Oklahoma’s Promise information during planning workshops, one-on-one meetings with families and visits to college campuses. In addition, the program will offer on-site services to students at Ada Junior High as well as provide information services to other junior high and middle schools in Pontotoc County, including Allen, Byng, Latta, Roff, Vanoss and Stonewall school districts.
The Believers in Boswell Community Coalition will partner with Boswell, Bennington, and Soper high schools, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Choctaw Nation Healthy Lifestyle/Youth Advisory Board for “Believers in Boswell Believe” to strengthen the Boswell Plan4College Center and promote Oklahoma’s higher education opportunities. Believers in Boswell Believe will implement a Plan4College incentive outreach to assist students and parents in Boswell and the two neighboring school districts with Oklahoma’s Promise and college entrance applications. In addition, the subgrant will fund special promotions and activities to highlight the services available at the Boswell Plan4College Center.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Theta Upsilon Omega Chapter, in Lawton will partner with Lawton’s Central and Tomlinson middle schools and Cameron University Open Doors to increase the number of students enrolling in Oklahoma’s Promise and strengthen the academic performance of eighth-grade students.
The Norman Economic Development Coalition will partner with Irving Middle School in Norman and the University of Oklahoma for “GEAR UP Irving 2013.” GEAR UP Irving 2013 will host parent nights, one-on-one parent meetings, a free tax-preparation service, classroom presentations and student incentive events to recruit and enroll students in Oklahoma’s Promise. In addition, subgrant funds will help create a college-going culture and environment for eighth graders and provide them with job-shadowing opportunities, career-exploration activities, college campus tours and career fairs. The Norman Economic Development Coalition is a joint effort of the University of Oklahoma, the city of Norman and the Norman business community through the Norman Chamber of Commerce.
Building a Nation Through Village Concepts in Oklahoma City will partner with John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City and Langston University – Oklahoma City for “Project DREAM.” Project DREAM will host parent/student meetings to recruit and enroll students in Oklahoma’s Promise, provide campus tours to two- and four-year colleges and universities in the Oklahoma City area and offer free ACT exams to students who participate in ACT prep training at least twice during the academic year. In addition, the subgrant will provide a free tax-preparation service to enrolled and eligible Oklahoma Promise parents to ensure students complete their FASFA information as well as seek other scholarship and grant opportunities.
The Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will partner with Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City. The program 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.
Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City will partner with Oklahoma Centennial High School in Oklahoma City and the University of Central Oklahoma for “Jeremiah Generation Project.” The project will provide ACT prep workshops, Oklahoma’s Promise and financial aid assistance sessions and “Building My Future” assemblies to help students learn about opportunities for their future. In addition, the subgrant will fund college campus tours to inspire students to get a college degree and parent partnership days to educate parents about the benefits of higher education.
St. John Christian Care Center in Oklahoma City will partner with Frederick Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Rose State College and the University of Central Oklahoma for “eXcell.” The eXcell project will increase recruitment, enrollment and retention in Oklahoma’s Promise, specifically among 10th-grade students, through school and home visits, calls to parents and outreach events designed to generate parental support. In addition, the subgrant will provide ACT test prep workshops, mentoring sessions, college and career fairs, and financial aid workshops.
The Community Action Project of Tulsa County (CAP) will partner with Oklahoma State University – Tulsa and Tulsa Community College to distribute information on preparing for college and Oklahoma’s Promise to students and families from four high schools – Central, Nathan Hale, Will Rogers and Daniel Webster. An outreach coordinator will make presentations during classes, participate in career fairs and conduct one-on-one meetings and phone assistance to help answer parents’ questions and aid with the completion of applications. In addition, CAP will distribute information to all Tulsa Public Schools in order to promote free tax-preparation assistance in conjunction with Oklahoma’s Promise.
The Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa will partner with East Central High School in Tulsa and Tulsa Community College to target high school students and families for Oklahoma’s Promise enrollment through outreach activities in both English and Spanish, including home-based visits, open houses, financial aid awareness sessions, back-to-school nights, parent/teacher meetings and on-site resource fairs. In addition, the program will distribute two mass mailings to all parents of freshmen and sophomore students in both English and Spanish and coordinate college campus visits during the school year.
Vertical Life Initiatives in Tulsa will partner with Tulsa’s McClain High School of Science and Technology, Gilcrease Middle School and Tulsa Community College for “Competitive Promise” to increase the enrollment in Oklahoma’s Promise through evening student/parent informational sessions at the schools, monthly follow-up visits by Citizen’s Student Union Ambassadors, study clinics for students and celebratory events to reward students for thinking about their futures. In addition, Competitive Promise will utilize promotional and marketing materials about Oklahoma’s Promise, such as t-shirts, fliers and posters, for distribution in school and at events.
Click here for more information on GEAR UP or call 800.858.1840.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with state GEAR UP grants totaling $20.5 million in August 1999 and $20.6 million in August 2005. The grants have been matched by more than $47 million from state and partner resources. With the addition of the 2005 multi-year, federal grant, Oklahoma’s GEAR UP program will ultimately receive more than $45.6 million in federal funds by 2011. GEAR UP receives 49 percent of total funding from the federal government and 51 percent from other organizations.