(Washington, DC) Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced today that the US Department of Education has awarded the District’s State Education Office (SEO) a five-year $4.6 million dollar grant to start the District's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) program, which helps prepare young people for college. The award of $924,564 each year for the next five years will be matched by grants and in-kind contributions from the District government and several of the District's colleges and universities.
"Our goal is to ensure that every young DC resident has the means and opportunity to attend college," said Mayor Williams. "This award will enable us to work more closely with middle and junior high school students to do just that."
The components of the GEAR-UP project include: academic preparation; early college awareness information and education for students, parents, teachers, and counselors; college financial assistance information; and student and family support services, such as counseling, mentoring, and tutoring. The District's program, which is expected to launch in September 2003, will serve approximately 1,000 7th graders.
The District's GEAR-UP project will also establish a scholarship fund to provide tuition assistance to participants who successfully complete high school. "This first-time accomplishment for the District of Columbia comes at a critical juncture when our city must grapple with budget cuts to its schools," said C. Vanessa Spinner, the District's State Education Officer. "GEAR-UP will enable the SEO to provide early college awareness services to many youngsters who could be the first generation in their families to attend college."
A working group of representatives from DC's colleges and universities, public schools, public charter schools, the "I Have a Dream Foundation," Mentors, Inc., the College Board, the Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and organizations that provide access to financial assistance and advice about how to prepare for postsecondary education will help to plan implementation of the District's GEAR UP project.