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OSSE Receives $21 Million GEAR UP Grant

Friday, October 27, 2023
The grant will provide coaching, workshops, and $11,000 scholarship per year over the first two years of postsecondary education for approximately 480 middle school students in Wards 7 and 8

Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced that the District has received a $21 million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant from the US Department of Education to expand programs that encourage DC middle school students to persist through secondary school and graduate high school with a plan to be successful in college and careers.

“Through the GEAR UP grant, we will inspire college dreams in the minds of hundreds of DC middle school students furthest from opportunity and provide the coaching support they need through high school and the financial support they need after high school to make their college dreams a reality,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “Next week, as we enter College Application and Exploration Month and celebrate our high school students taking the next step in furthering their education, it’s important that our middle school students can see themselves on campus, too, with support from GEAR UP and other opportunities available to students through OSSE and our partner agencies.”

The six-year GEAR UP grant will allow OSSE and its partnering organization, the DC College Access Program (DC-CAP), to offer approximately 480 middle school students in Wards 7 and 8 workshops, coaching and an $11,000 scholarship per year over their first two years of postsecondary education.

“DC-CAP is so honored to partner with OSSE and DCPS on this transformative federal investment in DC students. Our nearly 25-year history of supporting DC students on their college success journey has taught us that higher education is still the great equalizer,” said DC-CAP President and CEO Eric Waldo. “With great college counseling, great social-emotional support and enough scholarship money for school, our students can and will succeed.”

The GEAR UP grant will allow OSSE and DC-CAP to serve almost 500 middle school students and follow the cohort through high school. The program is slated to begin sometime in mid-2024. Public and public charter school partners include Excel Academy, Hart Middle School, Johnson Middle School, Kelly Miller Middle School, Kramer Middle School, and Sousa Middle School from DCPS, and Friendship Charter Schools’ Blow Pierce Middle School, and Southeast Middle School. More details about student selection for the GEAR UP program will be shared in the coming months.

“A big focus of DC Public Schools’ work at the middle school level is to make sure our students have access to opportunities and experiences that set them on a path to college and career,” said DCPS Chancellor Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “As we continue to partner with OSSE and colleges and universities in DC and throughout the country, GEAR UP is the support we need to help ensure equity in our efforts to provide exposure and exploration to all students.”

As a part of the DC GEAR UP program, College and Career Readiness Coaches will provide academic and socio-emotional support to students to encourage them to take rigorous courses that prepare them for college. Coaches also will teach students life skills that will enable students to be successful in college and beyond.

Drawing on the importance of experiential learning, the DC GEAR UP program will include funding for college tours as well as local activities and events designed to expand students’ cultural knowledge and social capital. The DC GEAR UP program will also include interactive workshops for families in addition to the students, to support their knowledge of postsecondary options, preparedness, and financing.

More information will be published on as the DC GEAR UP program is developed. For additional information, please contact Katherine Swanson-Palmer at [email protected].