WSU Tri-Cities Early Outreach awarded $23 million in grants to help regional middle school students overcome barriers to higher education
Nov. 20, 2008, RICHLAND, Wash. — The Early Outreach Program based at Washington State University Tri-Cities worked with 17 school districts and 19 community partners to receive two large six-year competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education under the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
GEAR UP helps middle school students receive guidance and assistance to prepare for and pursue a college education.
“We are fortunate in these rural communities to receive such large grants to help more students achieve their dreams of going to college,” said Genoveva Morales-Ledesma, Early Outreach Director. The WSU Tri-Cities Early Outreach program employs about 150 people who are based at schools throughout southcentral Washington.
The U.S. Department of Education Partnership projects must include at least one middle school that meets the free and reduced lunch eligibility factor, one college or university, and two community or business organizations. Partners work together to provide all students at a particular grade level and their families a range of support services needed to prepare for college, such as higher level coursework, summer academies, mentoring, counseling, and help with the college application process.
Grantees must match federal funding and partners may contribute in-kind services for their match, Morales-Ledesma explained. “The local contribution for the programs will be $23 million, therefore the Department of Education considers the actual funding award to be $46 million.”
Morales-Ledesma said the first GEAR UP six-year grant of $9.9 million is in partnership with the seven school districts of College Place, Dayton, Moses Lake, Prescott, Soap Lake, Touchet, and Walla Walla. This “Harvest of Hope GEAR UP” will begin serving 2,072 sixth- and seventh-grade students and follow this group until high school graduation.
The second GEAR UP six-year grant of $13.3 million is a partnership with the 10 school districts of Clarkston, Columbia, Endicott-St. John, Ephrata, Finley, Kiona-Benton, North Franklin, Pasco, Paterson, and Walla Walla. This “One Vision Partnership GEAR UP” will begin serving 2,792 sixth- and seventh-grade students and follow them until high school graduation.
Combined, these grants will bring significant financial resources — $23.2 million over a six-year period — to these communities.
The grants also include the community partners of Digital Learning Commons, Mano y Mano, Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology, Texas Instruments, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, Parametric Technology Corporation, Northwest Education Loan Association, Abriendo Puertas (Texas A&M University), and RGI Corporation. These partners bring additional expertise and resources to help prepare students for entering college.
The GEAR UP Program will offer a range of services and activities to prepare students to enter and succeed in college. These services will include enhanced academic support, college planning, summer/after-school programs, tutoring for ACT/SAT preparation, financial planning, college visits, career exploration, parent training, student leadership activities, and teacher professional development.
“For many families, especially those whose roots are in another culture, higher education appears inaccessible. Early Outreach helps these families see the value and envision the path, leading to a brighter future for their children,” said James R. “Dick” Pratt, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at WSU-Tri-Cites. “We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Education has invested in our region, providing significant resources for Early Outreach to prepare more students to enter college.”
For more details on the WSU Early Outreach programs, visit http://earlyoutreach.wsu.edu/flame . More information about GEAR UP nationwide is available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/gearup/index.html.
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Genoveva Morales-Ledesma, WSU Tri-Cities Director of Early Outreach, 509-372-7308, firstname.lastname@example.org.
James R. “Dick” Pratt, WSU Tri-Cities Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 509-372-7212, email@example.com.
Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities Marketing Manager, 509-372-7319, cell 509-727-3094, firstname.lastname@example.org.
WSU Tri-Cities is located along the Columbia River in Richland, Wash. Established in 1989 with upper division and graduate programs, WSU Tri-Cities offers 17 baccalaureate, 12 master's, and six doctoral degree programs. The campus added freshman and sophomore courses in fall 2007 to become a full four-year public university, extending the WSU land-grant mission of providing affordable, accessible higher education. For more information, call 509-372-7250 or visit www.tricity.wsu.edu <http://www.tricity.wsu.edu> .