Council on Postsecondary Education
USDOE approves $68 million award to Kentucky to increase college going among low-income students
(FRANKFORT, KY)--The U.S. Department of Education has approved funding for over $68 million in state and partnership GEAR UP grants for Kentucky. GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a discretionary grant program designed to provide services to high-poverty middle and high schools to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and complete postsecondary education degrees.
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education will receive $42 million of the total as a state award to administer the program. This breaks out to 50 percent in federal funding, or $21 million over the next six years, with GEAR UP partners across the state providing $21 million in matching funds.
Local partnership awards will go to Berea College at $17.1 million, the Western Kentucky Education Cooperative at $6.6 million, and the Clinton County Board of Education, $2.8 million. All awards are contingent upon continued funding in the federal budget.
"We are extremely pleased to be awarded our second GEAR UP grant,” stated Dr. Tom Layzell, president of the Council. The Council received its first award of $21 million in 2000.
“Our public agenda calls upon us to increase educational attainment to the national average by the year 2020. GEAR UP Kentucky will play a significant role in accelerating academic achievement,” he added.
GEAR UP Kentucky collaborates with multiple state partners including education agencies, postsecondary institutions, businesses and other organizations. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), a joint partner in the grant, will contribute $6.6 million over the six-year grant period.
"We are delighted to partner with the Council on a new GEAR UP program in Kentucky," said Dr. Joe L. McCormick, executive director of KHEAA and The Student Loan People. "KHEAA provides student financial aid to pay higher education expenses, and encouraging low-income students to develop the necessary skills to pursue a postsecondary education is an integral component of our mission to make higher education more accessible for Kentuckians."
GEAR UP Kentucky provides services to cohorts of seventh grade students and continues this support through their high school graduation. Program activities include developing rigorous, college preparatory curricula in GEAR UP schools; providing professional development to teachers; involving families in pre-college planning; providing supplemental scholarships; and coordinating an array of enrichment activities designed to support GEAR UP students. The new grant will work with primarily all new schools and a new group of seventh grade students in these schools will receive services each year during the first three years of the program.
"Over the last five years, the GEAR UP program has significantly improved student achievement among 50 low-income middle and high schools in Kentucky," said Yvonne Lovell, director of GEAR UP Kentucky. "We are grateful to our Congressional delegation and our GEAR UP partners for supporting this program. The new grant will make it possible to reach thousands more students."
The first GEAR UP state grant awarded to the Council in 2000 provided services to more than 18,000 students in low-income Kentucky schools. From 2000-2004, more GEAR UP Kentucky students decreased their scores at the novice level (the lowest level awarded in the CATS testing system) in science, reading, and math than the state average. GEAR UP Kentucky students’ rate of change at the novice level topped the state average by 50.3 percent in reading, 12.6 percent in math, and 2 percent in science.
Seven host sites will assist the Council in providing a range of services for students and school personnel to foster a college-going culture in schools. Host sites include Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Fayette County Public Schools, Hazard Community College, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky Council of Partners and University of Louisville. The Council and host sites will work with college partners to provide instructional resources and develop appropriate professional development activities, leadership trainings and academic support activities for students.
GEAR UP Host Site Contacts:
Dr. Linda Thomas Glover, Provost/CAO
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College
Dr. Dan Connell, Associate Provost
Morehead State University
Dr. Doug Fraley, Vice-President of Student Affairs
Hazard Community College
Dr. Barbara Stonewater, Executive Director
Northern Kentucky Council of Partners
Dr. Russ Wall, Dean of the College of Education
Murray State University
Dr. Kirsten Sundell, Assistant Director for Special Projects – Nystrand Center of Excellence in Education
College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville
Dr. Mark Williams, Career Technical Coordinator
Fayette County Public Schools
Kentucky's postsecondary education system includes eight public universities, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, numerous independent institutions and Kentucky Adult Education. The system represents 231,612 students, 538,866 Kentucky alumni and 294,896 GED recipients. When Kentuckians earn postsecondary degrees, their skills improve and their wages go up; they are more likely to lead healthy lives and be engaged in their communities; and they build better futures for themselves and their families.