CHAPEL HILL – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the 17-campus University of North Carolina a seven-year, $28.6-million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant to help significantly increase the number of North Carolina students who are prepared to pursue postsecondary education. As part of the national GEAR UP initiative, GEAR UP North Carolina will partner with 11 school districts across the state that serve predominantly low-income communities, providing academic preparation services to nearly 22,000 students – starting as early as the 7th grade – and their families. The program is funded through 2019. This is the third statewide GEAR UP grant that the University has received since 2000.
“We are thrilled to partner with 46 new target schools as we continue and build upon the great work accomplished through this program over the past 12 years,” said Dr. Karrie Dixon, UNC Associate Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Principal Investigator for GEAR UP North Carolina.
The most recent GEAR UP North Carolina grant, funded in 2005, increased high school graduation rates at target high schools by more than 10 percentage points, outpacing the state of North Carolina and narrowing the gap between GEAR UP North Carolina schools and the state average by almost half. Target schools also increased the percentage of students who enrolled in college after high school graduation by almost 10 percentage points – from 52.4% to 62.2% – across the GEAR UP North Carolina program.
“Not only did our partner schools increase high school graduation rates, thereby enlarging the pool of students eligible to enroll in postsecondary education,” said Dr. Dixon, “they also increased the percentage of students who actually enrolled in postsecondary education. That’s a phenomenal outcome.”
GEAR UP North Carolina will provide eligible students and their families services including academic tutoring, career exploration, college advising, college visits, financial literacy workshops, mentoring, postsecondary services, Spanish services, summer enrichment programs, and professional development for educators. Additionally, GEAR UP North Carolina will continue to partner with the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) to provide free college access services to students and their families in target schools and statewide, helping students to plan, apply, and pay for college.
Additional partners for this statewide initiative include the NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Community College System, NC Independent Colleges and Universities, NC State Education Assistance Authority, College Foundation, Inc., ACT, SAS Institute, and the NC Business Committee for Education.
Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its successful use of data during the national 2010 GEAR UP Day event, GEAR UP North Carolina will continue to provide data-driven services that ensure the needs of individual students in target schools are met.
“This is a program with a strong track-record of success,” said UNC President Tom Ross. “Through such collaborative partnerships with other education stakeholders in our state, GEAR UP North Carolina is playing an important role in raising the global competitiveness of our state’s and nation’s workforce.”
GEAR UP North Carolina’s 11 partner school districts include Alamance-Burlington, Edenton-Chowan, Lenoir County, McDowell County, Pamlico County, Perquimans County, Person County, Rockingham County, Scotland County, Warren County, and Yancey County.