Contact: Amy Bruce
Oklahoma GEAR UP is celebrating ongoing success in helping students and families prepare for college during National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 23-27. The celebration highlights the impactful work of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a college access program that provides students and their families with college planning resources. Since its inception in 1999, GEAR UP has helped improve educational outcomes for millions of low-income students across the U.S., including thousands of Oklahoma students.
"National GEAR UP Week gives us an opportunity to reflect on the tremendous strides we have made in preparing students for college since 1999," said Oklahoma Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. "We celebrate the efforts our state is making to improve both college access and the readiness of our students to succeed in college and earn their degree."
During 2012-13, Oklahoma GEAR UP worked directly with 24 school districts and provided statewide college access and information services. Some of the notable impacts* include:
- Thirty-three GEAR UP teachers and administrators completed 18 hours of grant writing training resulting in the awarding of approximately $1.2 million in state, foundation and federal grant funds to assist with sustainability of GEAR UP projects at the local level.
- Five colleges housed one college liaison each that provided direct student services and assisted in arranging and organizing college campus tours while building relationships with GEAR UP high school seniors in 24 schools in preparation for a seventh-year program that will take place on six college campuses during the 2013-14 school year.
- Approximately 76 GEAR UP district staff attended the first annual Oklahoma College Access State Conference, hosted in collaboration with the Oklahoma College Access Network.
- Seventy-three percent – or 1,605 of high school seniors from the 24 GEAR UP school districts – submitted college applications during College App Week. These students initiated and/or completed 2,160 college applications.
- Twenty-five parents from eight GEAR UP schools completed six days of training through the GEAR UP Parent Leadership Institute where parents are empowered to be positive advocates for education. Upon completion of this training, $52,276 in partnership support funds were awarded to seven parent teams while $31,276 of community support was donated to these teams to promote project implementation in their local school.
- A total of 76 GEAR UP district graduates attended a freshman college bridge or orientation program hosted by 17 higher education institutions where these students were enrolled.
- Fifty-five GEAR UP students participated in college residential summer programs with a STEM, science, technology, engineering and math focus.
- A total of 313 students and parents participated in financial aid awareness events that provided information and guidance on how to apply for college aid through FAFSA, community scholarship programs, and state and national scholarship programs
- Approximately 8,904 GEAR UP students in grades seven through 12 from 16 GEAR UP middle and high schools participated in 58 college campus tours at 22 Oklahoma higher education institutions.
- A total of 678 GEAR UP juniors and seniors participated in concurrent enrollment which provides both high school and college credit for up to six hours per semester.
- During the year, 144 students in grades eight through 10 at Oklahoma GEAR UP’s 24 districts, enrolled in Oklahoma’s Promise, a scholarship program the pays college tuition for students who meet certain income, academic and behavior requriements
- The Oklahoma College Assistance Program provided 33 college preparation seminars at 16 GEAR UP school districts covering topics such as financial aid awareness, college admissions, and financial literacy.
GEAR UP’s reach is strong and sustainable as the program provides professional training and support for educators, learning and leadership opportunities for students, college planning information for families and mentoring support for students from seventh grade through college.
The statewide GEAR UP grant is one of several GEAR UP programs in Oklahoma. Eastern Oklahoma State College, Seminole State College and the University of Oklahoma K-20 Center also have GEAR UP partnership grants that serve students in their specific geographic areas.
"We appreciate the countless education leaders, parents and community volunteers who have contributed to the success of GEAR UP’s efforts to help more students realize their dream of earning a college degree," Johnson said.
GEAR UP goes beyond the classroom, encouraging community and parental involvement that helps school districts create and sustain a college going culture. Through awareness activities and services, the grant helps promote Oklahoma’s Promise, the state scholarship program, and also encourages families to start planning for college early at OKcollegestart.org.
To learn more about the national GEAR UP program, please visit the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships at edpartnerships.org.
For more information about Oklahoma GEAR UP, please visit www.okhighered.org/gearup, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800.858.1840 or follow us on Facebook or Twitter under Oklahoma GEAR UP.
Oklahoma GEAR UP School Districts include: Ardmore City Schools, Caney Valley Public Schools, Catoosa Public Schools, Checotah Public Schools, Davis Public Schools, Duncan Public Schools, Elk City Public Schools, Guymon Public Schools, Harrah Public Schools, Henryetta Public Schools, Hobart Public Schools, Kingston Public Schools, Little Axe Public Schools, Luther Public Schools, Madill Public Schools, Marietta Public Schools, McLoud Public Schools, Newkirk Public Schools, Okmulgee Public Schools, Roland Public Schools, Sapulpa Public Schools, Stilwell Public Schools, Tecumseh Public Schools, and Woodward Public Schools.
*Data based on most recent information reported by 24 GEAR UP School Districts as of Sept. 1, 2013.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with state GEAR UP grants totaling $20.5 million in August 1999, $20.6 million in August 2005 and $34.9 million in September 2011. The grants have been matched by more than $48 million from state and partner resources. From 1999 to 2011, GEAR UP received more than $45.6 million in federal funds. With the addition of the 2011 grant, Oklahoma’s GEAR UP program will ultimately receive more than $80.6 million in federal funds by 2018.