September 30, 2011

RI Receives $3 Million to Help Students GEAR UP for College

Federal Funding Will Help Prepare Kids for College and Provide Scholarships

PROVIDENCE, RI — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today joined with students and education officials at Mount Pleasant High School in Providence to announce a new federal grant that could provide up to $18 million over the next several years to help public school students across the state succeed in school and prepare for college.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program is designed to help economically disadvantaged students succeed in school and prepare for college. In Rhode Island, GEAR UP provides advisory services, college readiness programming, family engagement programs, and scholarship support to participating students. For the past 12 years, The College Crusade has developed and implemented RI GEAR UP programs and services in Rhode Island as part of the state’s overall education strategy to increase high school graduation and college-attendance rates.

“I am proud to have helped secure GEAR UP funding for Rhode Island. The College Crusade is an outstanding organization that helps young people from low-income families prepare for college and succeed once they get there. This money will enable them to expand their efforts and reach out to more students,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee which oversees federal spending on education programs.

“The greatest investment we as a nation can make is in our children and their future,” said Senator Whitehouse, member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) and former board member of College Crusade of Rhode Island. “This GEAR UP funding will give our schools the resources to help more students set and realize their goals to attend college.”

“We are truly grateful to Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, and our entire Congressional delegation, and Governor Chafee for their support of The College Crusade of Rhode Island and the RI GEAR UP Program,” said Ray Di Pasquale, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education. “I am so pleased about this award and thrilled that it can further the excellent work The College Crusade does every day to help young Rhode Islanders become better skilled, better educated, and better prepared for college.”

Under the new grant award, The College Crusade will deploy a team of 24 full-time RI GEAR UP advisors in 32 middle and high schools to provide personalized educational support for students and to motivate them to take rigorous courses, graduate from high school on time, and make a successful transition to college and career. The College Crusade will also provide a continuum of RI GEAR UP extended learning opportunities for these students across four domains – academic support, social and personal development, postsecondary preparation, and career exploration.

GEAR UP also provides scholarships for up to eight semesters for qualified participants who enroll at in-state schools that grant two- or four-year degrees, or at two- or four-year out-of-state colleges that donate scholarships through the College Crusade’s 14-member Scholarship Collaborative. The average annual award is approximately $3,000.

The new RI GEAR UP grant program also includes numerous systemic initiatives that complement the state’s Race to the Top management plan. These initiatives will be implemented by the RI Office of Higher Education, the RI Department of Education, and the RI Higher Education Assistance Authority and will build the state’s long-term capacity to provide increased rigor and college- and career-readiness for all students.


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