McAuliffe announces federal grants to help 6,000 students gain access to higher education

school2Today Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is one of just ten states awarded federal funds through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Expanding access to post-secondary education in every corner of the Commonwealth is key to building a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These grants will help my administration work with schools and communities to prepare more low-income students to get the skills and training they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) will administer the $22 million grant over the next seven years in an effort to increase preparation and enrollment for post-secondary education. State GEAR UP grants are designed to increase college attendance and completion by raising low-income student awareness of college and financial aid options, increasing their participation in academically challenging courses and supporting them through the college admissions process. Successful GEAR UP students also receive a scholarship to support their post-secondary pursuits.

GEAR UP Virginia Programming will begin serving nearly 6,000 seventh grade students in 16 school districts this year. The program will follow this group of students through high school and into their first year of college.

Through partnerships with school districts, colleges, non-profits, and businesses, the project will provide a comprehensive set of services to include tutoring, test preparation, summer bridge programs, college tours and study skills development. In addition, the GEAR UP Virginia grants will offer support services to 300 homeless youth in a pilot initiative to offer turning point services to students who find themselves in this situation during their senior year.

“Greater access to continued education after high school is crucial to a successful citizenry and workforce,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake. “A program like GEAR UP with a track record of success is a perfect match with SCHEV’s goals.”

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on higher education issues.

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