Oklahoma GEAR UP recognized continued success in helping Ada students and families better prepare for college during National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 23-27. The celebration week showcased the college-access program, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education administers the Oklahoma GEAR UP program. Since 1999, Oklahoma has received four consecutive, multi-year, statewide GEAR UP grants, which has helped improve educational outcomes for thousands of Oklahoma students.

“National GEAR UP Week provides a special opportunity to reflect on the excellent progress we have made in student preparation through GEAR UP,” said Jolynn Horn, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education assistant vice chancellor for GEAR UP. “We celebrate the partnership between GEAR UP and Ada City Schools, which is improving awareness of college opportunities and teaching students the steps they need to apply to college, pay for college and succeed in college.”

During 2018-19, Oklahoma GEAR UP worked directly with Ada City Schools to provide early intervention services and strategies for approximately 1,064 students in grades seven through 12. A few of the impacts include: 

• 758 students toured a college campus to learn about academic programs and campus life.

• 94 educators attended GEAR UP professional training in topics such as school leadership and professional learning communities.

• 442 students received academic mentoring and/or counseling.

• 343 students received information that provided guidance on how to apply for financial aid, such as Oklahoma’s Promise, completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), community scholarships and other financial aid programs.

• 162 high school juniors completed a free ACT exam provided by Oklahoma GEAR UP.

• 86 students in eighth, ninth or 10th grade enrolled in Oklahoma’s Promise.

• 112 high school seniors participated in College App Week last November and completed college admission applications with the assistance of on-site college mentors.

• 149 students attended a field trip to the National Weather Center for hands-on STEM learning opportunities.

Eastern Oklahoma State College, Seminole State College, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma K-20 Center also have GEAR UP partnership grants that serve students in their specific geographic areas.

GEAR UP goes beyond the classroom, encouraging community and parental involvement that help school districts create and sustain a college-going culture. Through awareness activities and services, the grant helps promote Oklahoma’s Promise, the state scholarship program, and encourages families to start planning for college early at OKcollegestart.org. Learn more at okgearup.org or follow on Facebook or Twitter under Oklahoma GEAR UP.

Oklahoma GEAR UP school districts include Ada City Schools, Claremore Public Schools, Clinton Public Schools, Duncan Public Schools, Durant Public Schools, Jay Public Schools, Locust Grove Public Schools, Skiatook Public Schools, Tahlequah Public Schools and Woodward Public Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in 1999. The grant was supplemented with a one-year extension of $4.4 million in 2004. Oklahoma received additional GEAR UP grants totaling $20.6 million in 2005 and $34.9 million in 2011. In September 2017, the State Regents were awarded a fourth, consecutive GEAR UP grant in the amount of $24 million over the next seven years. 

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