GEAR UP Program Receives Multi-Million Dollar Grant
State education officials say Nevada is being awarded a $21 million federal grant over seven years to continue an education program designed to help low-income and disadvantaged students prepare for college.
The Gaining Early Awareness and Education for Undergraduate Programs, also known as GEAR UP, helps provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools to make students better prepared for college.
"It provides counseling, tutoring, mentoring, all the way from middle school all the way into high school," says Pedro Martinez, Superintendent for the Washoe County School District.
The state received this grant in 2001 and 2006. GEAR UP provides educational support to 7th grade classes from 19 different middle schools around the state, aiding them all the way through high school.
In the last 11 years it has helped more than 4,000 Nevada students graduate high school and pursue their academic goals.
"And many of those are in college now," says Charlotte Curtis, the state coordinator for GEAR UP. "Some have already graduated. We have a few here today."
This year's grant will support another 5,000 students through 2019. Part of the program includes extra tutoring and accelerated classes.
"So they can take algebra earlier, they can start to take dual credit when they're in high school so they earn college credit early," says Curtis.
That means not only are students getting a jump start on college classes, but they're also saving tuition money. We talked to one University of Nevada student who, thanks to the GEAR UP program, took 28 college credits in high school.
"Definitely the GEAR UP grant helped fund my college," says Katie Hill. "And now I'm a graduate assistant for them and so it's helping fund my graduate education as well."
The goal now is to send the next 5,000 students down a similar path to success.
"If we had the resources, I would have this program for every single one of middle schools, every one of our high schools," says Martinez.
Wooster High School is a good example of how successful GEAR UP can be. Martinez says just last year the school saw a 17 percent jump in its graduation rate.