Washington State University Tri-Cities has received a seven-year, $11.7 million GEAR UP grant to prepare students in low-income schools to succeed in post-secondary education.
It marks the eighth U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. These awards have helped the university serve more than 30,000 students in middle and high schools in southeastern Washington. Total GEAR UP grant funds received by WSU Tri-Cities now total more than $123 million.
The GEAR UP grant — GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — will allow for the hiring of nine new salaried staff and a variety of tutors to work with students in middle schools. The goals of the program are to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, state exam pass rates, on-time graduation, post-secondary enrollment and freshman retention rates.
“The grant will help raise student awareness and readiness for post-secondary education and career opportunities,” GEAR UP director Chuck Hallsted said. “It will really make a difference in our communities, especially for first generation and underrepresented populations.”
The new grant, titled the One Vision Partnership, will serve 2,185 students in nine partner districts in Washington: Clarkston, Columbia, Finley, Ephrata, Kiona-Benton, Mabton, Pasco, North Franklin and Prosser.
WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP staff will assist students in the sixth and/or seventh grades and will follow the students through high school and into their first year of post-secondary education to increase their academic success.
Students will have access to academic tutoring, mentoring, advising, college trips, career exploration, after-school programs, summer programs, non-academic skills for success and some technology. Professional development will also be available for teachers.
Hallsted said the WSU GEAR UP program also emphasizes collaboration with school administration to ensure an effective team approach and alignment with their educational framework and GEAR UP grant objectives, including advisory board meetings comprised of the partner school superintendents.