Eastern Oklahoma State College awarded a $17 million GEAR UP grant to help area students prepare for postsecondary education
GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan
The grant is the largest in Eastern’s history and the college’s third GEAR UP award from the U.S. Department of Education
WILBURTON, OK (Oct. 2, 2017) – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Eastern Oklahoma State College a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant that will help more than 3,000 area students prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education. The grant is the largest in Eastern’s history and the college’s third consecutive, multi-year GEAR UP partnership grant award.
GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The federally-funded grant program is one of the largest and most effective programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income and underserved students in communities nationwide. To participate, at least 50 percent of a school’s student population must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith said Eastern will receive $17,091,200 over the next seven years to assist students in 39 partner schools in southeast Oklahoma.
“Student success is our number one priority at Eastern. The GEAR UP grant program helps us get an early start on that objective by working with local schools and families to help prepare and develop students to be successful in college or in their career,” Smith said. “Eastern is honored to once again lead this project and work collaboratively with our public school, business and organization partners. I would also like to express our appreciation to U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford for their continued support in our efforts to serve students in southeast Oklahoma.”
The GEAR UP grant, which starts immediately, will serve all current sixth and seventh grade students in 39 partner schools in nine counties. Parents or guardians must grant permission for students to be served and there is no cost, income requirements or other qualifications to participate. The grant program will serve students throughout high school graduation and their first year of college or postsecondary education.
The schools participating in the new grant include Antlers, Atoka, Bokoshe, Buffalo Valley, Cameron, Canadian, Clayton, Coalgate, Crowder, Eufaula, Fanshawe, Frink-Chambers, Haileyville, Harmony, Hartshorne, Indianola, Keota, Krebs, Lane, LeFlore, McAlester, McCurtain, Moyers, Panama, Panola, Pittsburg, Porum, Poteau, Quinton, Rattan, Savanna, Shady Point, Spiro, Stringtown, Talihina, Tannehill, Whitesboro, Wilburton and Wister.
In addition to the federal funding, the program is also supported by 64 organizations and businesses, including Texas Instruments, Inc. and the Choctaw Nation, that will provide matching contributions and in-kind services to meet the goals and objectives of the grant.
GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan said the project goals are to increase student academic performance, increase high school graduation rates, improve opportunities for teacher professional development, improve students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary education options and resources to finance them, and increase completion of postsecondary education.
GEAR UP education coordinators and a professional development coordinator will work with partner schools to provide services such as tutoring, mentoring, career planning and advisement, summer campus, college financial aid workshops, ACT test preparation, field trips, and on-going professional development for teachers. All services will be provided to GEAR UP partner schools at no cost.
“This is a highly competitive process, and we are excited to receive a 2017 GEAR UP grant,” Morgan said. “GEAR UP is all about helping students prepare for and succeed academically. We work with students, parents, teachers and administers to provide opportunities and support to students. Members of the GEAR UP team work hard to ensure students are given opportunities to pursue their dreams. A child can never have too many people in his or her corner.”
Eastern is currently in its seventh and final year of a $12.6 million GEAR UP grant that the college received in 2011. It currently serves students in their senior year of high school and first year of postsecondary education. Morgan said the GEAR UP team will administer both grants simultaneously for one year. Eastern also received a $6.7 million GEAR UP grant in 2006.
Smith said with this new GEAR UP award, Eastern has received more than $46.7 million in grant funding since 2006.
Students worked intensely to take notes and learn how to improve their ACT scores during a recent Chad Cargill ACT Test Prep Workshop sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State GEAR UP.
Local high school students attended the 2016 NCCEP/GEAR UP conference in Washington, DC as part of the current GEAR UP grant program at Eastern Oklahoma State College.