Media Contact: Amy Bruce
Gov. Mary Fallin has declared Sept. 10-14 as GEAR UP Week in Oklahoma. This event celebrates the ongoing, impactful work of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a college access program that provides students and their families with valuable resources to plan for college success. 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 students in Oklahoma.
"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.”
GEAR UP’s reach is strong and sustainable as: more teachers participate in targeted, research-based professional training to help improve classroom instruction and student performance; designated, low-income school districts receive assistance through subgrants and professional trainers to implement sustainable programs like tutoring, mentoring, freshman orientation, standardized test prep, career awareness and leadership building that help students prepare for college success; more students attend free, summer institutes in science, technology, engineering and math, tour college campuses and participate in college readiness activities.
"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.
Families can access college planning help through the Student Information hotline (in English or Spanish) at 800.858.1840 and by visiting Plan4College Centers in communities around the state. Parents from GEAR UP School Districts may also participate in Parent Leadership Academies to learn more about school data and culture and how they can positively advocate for their school.
GEAR UP impacts the lives of students by helping them see college as a reality they can achieve. Seth Stivers, an 11th grade student at Luther High School, plans to attend college because of his experience at a GEAR UP Summer Institute. Stivers stayed on campus for two weeks this past summer at Connors State College (CSC) in Warner and participated in an ongoing wetlands research project with CSC faculty and staff.
"Going to the GEAR UP Summer Institute was an incredible experience,” said Stivers. "The best part for me was working with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department and all of the hands-on activities they provided.”
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, including information on Oklahoma’s 24 GEAR UP school districts and locations of Plan4College Centers, please visit www.okhighered.org/gearup or call 800.858.1840.
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
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.