On Friday, October 31, 2014, Governor Bentley held a special event at the Alabama Capitol to recognize Phenix City Schools and 17 other Alabama school districts as recipients of the GEAR UP grant. The goal of the event was to highlight the grant, recognize the leadership of the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) who worked on the grant and discuss the impact this grant will have on students in Phenix City and other areas.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education was awarded the seven-year, $49 million grant to increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education. The grant is the largest ever awarded to the UAB School of Education. The U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program provides funding to states to enhance services for students, parents and teachers at high-poverty middle and high schools. UAB’s annual federal award of $3.5 million will be matched by state and project partners, including the Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama State University, Auburn University, the Black Belt Community Foundation, Regions Bank, the University of Alabama and the University of Montevallo. Partners outside Alabama include Allied Practice and Kaplan K12 Learning Services.

GEAR UP’s goals are to increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education, improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates, increase participating student and family knowledge of postsecondary educational options and financing, and increase program teacher preparation to serve GEAR UP students.

The program will begin this fall with a cohort of students in either sixth or seventh grade and follow them through their first year of college. Fifty percent of the grant will fund scholarships for all GEAR UP program students. The remainder will establish or improve programs that will systematically enhance the region’s educational infrastructure to encourage and support students, parents and teachers in students’ pursuit of postsecondary education.

“GEAR UP Alabama provides an opportunity to make a significant impact on the students and families of over 10,000 sixth- and seventh-grade students in the Black Belt region of Alabama,” said Lawrence Tyson, Ph.D., associate professor of counselor education in the Department of Human Studies and principal investigator for the program.

“Education is the basis for future growth of Alabama’s economy,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “This grant will help build a solid foundation for our children and will set them up to succeed, by being better prepared for post-secondary education and to join the workforce. The program that this grant funds will be welcome support in our state’s Black Belt region, with some of our most at-need students who attend high-poverty schools. Over the life of this program, we hope to see more of these students being successful in school and in life.”

The program will help students be ready for college academically and financially by offering tutoring, academic advising and college entrance exam preparation, as well as workshops for parents. Summer programs and college visits will expose students to campus life and guide them as they transition between middle school, high school and college.

GEAR UP (GUA) will give teachers professional development opportunities that will allow them to develop rigorous academic curricula and introduce students to college-level coursework. The improved curricula are expected to benefit the students in grade levels adjoining the GEAR UP cohort and have a lasting impact on the quality of instruction at participating schools.

The UAB GUA team is working with Alabama State University to host all of its partners (principals, superintendents, community foundations, higher education, other organizations) at a day workshop on December 3, 2014, to outline how the GUA grant impacts the children in the school districts. This workshop will provide: 1) an over view of GUA, 2) the organizational structure of the grant, 3) the objectives of the grant, 4) the holistic approach aimed at the students/parents in your districts, 5) GUA planned activities and 6) the implementation strategies of this grant.

Source: Phenix City Schools Blogspot