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October 1, 2004 :: Oklahoma GEAR UP Receives SBC Foundation Grant to Help Promote College Readiness Among Oklahoma Students and Families

Media Contact: Amy Bruce
Office: 1.405.225.9281
abruce@osrhe.edu

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) recently announced Oklahoma's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) as a grant recipient for excellence and innovation in education. Oklahoma has received $46,821 from the SBC Foundation to implement a cyber counseling center that will help more state students and their families better prepare for college.

The cyber counseling center will provide high school counselors from 13 Oklahoma school districts with extensive training in Web site design, multimedia presentation software and Internet resources to enhance their services to students. Students and parents will benefit from the program as college access, financial aid, career development, and community and social resources will be available day and night on the Internet.

School districts that will receive the training include: Barnsdall, Drumright, Guymon, Liberty, Paden, Picher-Cardin, Ponca City, Poteau, Stigler, Stroud, Vian, Westville and Wetumka. Northeastern State University and the Oklahoma State Department of Education are also partners in the cyber counseling initiative.

''We are extremely pleased that NCCEP and the SBC Foundation have recognized Oklahoma higher education's efforts to boost education levels in Oklahoma through GEAR UP,'' said Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Paul Risser. ''The cyber center is just another example of how GEAR UP uses innovative methods to reach students early and prepare them for college through partnership approaches.”

The SBC Foundation awarded $5 million in grants to NCCEP in February. Since then, $4.5 million in regional grants have been awarded to 60 GEAR UP projects throughout the SBC 13-state operating area, which includes Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Funds from the SBC Foundation grant will also seed the establishment of 19 new K-16 education partnerships based on the GEAR UP model. A full list of local GEAR UP partnerships receiving grants is available at www.edpartnerships.org.

The grants will support a variety of community-focused education initiatives, including after-school programs to help students in math, science, reading and technology; training and assistance for teachers in the use of technology in the classroom; and technology usage to enhance measurement of student achievement and program impact.

“SBC’s support of education is built on the belief that every child should have opportunities to succeed,” said Don Cain, president of SBC Oklahoma. “Most of the fastest-growing jobs this decade will require education beyond high school. In supporting GEAR UP, we fund effective programs that will provide students with the tools they need to prepare them for lifelong success.”

In addition to the grant awarded to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the SBC Foundation also recently awarded two grants totaling $125,000 to the Oklahoma City Public Schools GEAR UP Partnership.

According to a U. S. Department of Education study, high academic achievers from disadvantaged families are less likely to enroll in college. GEAR UP seeks to address this disparity by encouraging middle and high school students to stay in school and apply for college. The program currently serves 1.2 million students nationwide with the help of more than 2,000 community, business, higher education and public school district partnerships.

“GEAR UP program practices are an effective catalyst for positive impact on benchmarks ranging from standardized test scores to graduation rates. Through the SBC Foundation’s generous support, GEAR UP programs will help Oklahoma youth succeed in middle and high school and prepare for a college-level education,” said Hector Garza, president of NCCEP.

NCCEP serves as the national technical assistance provider, annual conference convener and voice in Washington, D.C., for the GEAR UP program. NCCEP, a non-profit organization committed to creating and sustaining K-16 education partnerships, works to increase academic achievement and access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students.

The SBC Foundation is the charitable giving arm of SBC Communications Inc. and supports efforts that enrich and strengthen diverse communities nationwide, particularly those with an emphasis on education and technology and those that benefit underserved populations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Foundation Center have consistently ranked the SBC Foundation among the nation’s top five corporate foundations. In 2003, the SBC Foundation provided nearly $18 million to support education initiatives nationwide.

For more information on Oklahoma GEAR UP, visit www.okhighered.org/gearup or call the State Regents’ toll-free Student Information Hotline at 800.858.1840.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With the addition of year six federal funding, Oklahoma's GEAR UP program has received approximately $25 million in federal funds since 1999. GEAR UP receives 50 percent of total funding from the federal government and 50 percent from other organizations.

SBC is a Fortune 50 company whose subsidiaries, operating under the SBC brand, provide a full range of voice, data, networking, e-business, directory publishing and advertising, and related services to businesses, consumers and other telecommunications providers. SBC holds a 60 percent ownership interest in Cingular Wireless, which serves 25 million wireless customers. SBC companies provide high-speed DSL Internet access lines to more American consumers than any other provider and are among the nation's leading providers of Internet services. SBC companies also now offer satellite TV service. Additional information about SBC is available at www.sbc.com.