The UNC System has been awarded a $25.7 million federal grant for a program to help low-income students prepare for college and succeed once there.
The seven-year grant, announced Tuesday, is part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative from the U.S. Department of Education. The UNC system has been awarded four statewide GEAR UP grants since 2000.
The stated goals of the grant are:
- Increasing academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education
- Increasing the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education
- Increasing students’ and families’ knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation requirements, and financing
The grant will go a long way toward supporting the system’s goal of increasing access to higher education in the state, said UNC System Interim President Bill Roper in a statement Tuesday.
“The UNC System looks forward to working with our partners, helping to create greater access, preparation and awareness of college options for students,” said Dr. Bill Roper, interim president of the UNC System. “We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for this grant, and we are confident that these funds will change lives by creating greater access to higher education for many North Carolinians.”
Beginning this year, according to the statement, GEAR UP will begin providing services to 6th and 7th grade students and their families in five middle schools in different districts. The high schools they feed will also begin getting priority services under the program. That will include custom math and science instruction, enrichment courses after school and during the summer and STEM and computer science apprenticeship opportunities. The services will continue into the first year of the students’ college careers.
Ten additional high schools across multiple districts will also be receiving services, according to the system. High schools with low college enrollment rates will be given priority. Students and their families will get financial aid counseling, college advising and counseling on college matching and fit.