Oklahoma GEAR UP is celebrating ongoing success in helping students and families plan and prepare for college as part of National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 21-25. The celebration highlights Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a college access program funded through the U.S. Department of Education.
Oklahoma GEAR UP is administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Since 1999, Oklahoma has received three consecutive, multiyear, statewide GEAR UP grants and has helped improve educational outcomes for thousands of Oklahoma students.
"GEAR UP helps students and families by improving awareness of college opportunities and by making it easier for students to access and enroll in college,” said Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Students learn the steps they need to apply to college, pay for college and succeed in college. National GEAR UP Week presents a special opportunity to pause and reflect on the excellent progress we are making in student preparation with the help of our GEAR UP program.”
During 2014-15, GEAR UP worked directly with 24 school districts – a total of 51 middle and high schools – and provided services to 18,980 students. Education specialists spent time each week in the districts, providing direct student services and professional support to increase college-going awareness and readiness activities at the local level.
Some notable impacts* for the 24 GEAR UP districts include:
GEAR UP’s reach is strong and sustainable. The grant program continues to provide professional training and support for educators, learning and leadership opportunities for students, college planning information for families, and mentoring support for students from seventh grade through college.
“I am a proud GEAR UP student and very thankful for all of the services that they provide. GEAR UP has given me that extra push to get where I want to be in life. Whether it was sending people to talk to us about college or going on college tours, they have motivated me to reach my goals in life,” said DayMon Buford Jr., Luther High School graduate and Rose State College student.
The statewide grant is one of several GEAR UP programs in Oklahoma. Eastern Oklahoma State College, Seminole State College, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma K-20 Center also have GEAR UP partnership grants that serve students in their specific geographic areas.
GEAR UP goes beyond the classroom, encouraging community and parental involvement that helps school districts create and sustain a college-going culture. Through awareness activities and services, the grant helps promote Oklahoma’s Promise, the state scholarship program, and also encourages families to start planning for college early at OKcollegestart.org.
To learn more about the national GEAR UP program, visit the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships at edpartnerships.org. For more information about Oklahoma GEAR UP, visit okgearup.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter under Oklahoma GEAR UP.
Oklahoma GEAR UP School Districts include: Ardmore City Schools, Caney Valley Public Schools, Catoosa Public Schools, Checotah Public Schools, Davis Public Schools, Duncan Public Schools, Elk City Public Schools, Guymon Public Schools, Harrah Public Schools, Henryetta Public Schools, Hobart Public Schools, Kingston Public Schools, Little Axe Public Schools, Luther Public Schools, Madill Public Schools, Marietta Public Schools, McLoud Public Schools, Newkirk Public Schools, Okmulgee Public Schools, Roland Public Schools, Sapulpa Public Schools, Stilwell Public Schools, Tecumseh Public Schools and Woodward Public Schools.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with state GEAR UP grants totaling $20.5 million in August 1999, $20.6 million in August 2005 and $34.9 million in September 2011. The grants have been matched by more than $48 million from state and partner resources. From 1999 to 2011, GEAR UP received more than $45.6 million in federal funds. With the addition of the 2011 grant, Oklahoma’s GEAR UP program will ultimately receive more than $80.6 million in federal funds by 2018.
*Data based on most recent information reported by 24 GEAR UP School Districts as of Sept. 1, 2015.