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GEAR UP and Ford Family Foundation expand college access program in 10 Oregon communities

Contacts:     Dana Beck, GEAR UP Communications Specialist (dana_beck@ous.edu / 541-346-5727)

Stephanie Carnahan, GEAR UP Project Director (stephanie_carnahan@ous.edu / 541-346-5761)

Eugene – February 22, 2011:  The Oregon University System and the Ford Family Foundation are partnering to expand GEAR UP college access programs to ten new rural communities in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. Since 2002, Oregon has been the recipient of a federal grant for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) that works to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Currently, there are 12 rural communities across the state which receive funding and support to implement community-specific plans to create a college-going culture, starting in the 7th grade and continuing through high school graduation, which focuses on academic and other types of preparation for college.

The Ford Family Foundation is also committed to improving postsecondary education awareness, preparation and enrollment among rural students and is a natural partner to spread the GEAR UP program more broadly across Oregon. Thus, ten new school clusters will be selected to join GEAR UP, beginning with the first cohort of 7th grade students in fall 2011.

“We are honored to partner with The Ford Family Foundation to bring GEAR UP to more rural communities in Oregon,” said Stephanie Carnahan, GEAR UP director. “The program affords communities the opportunity to further develop a college-going culture that supports the dreams and aspirations of all students. Both organizations are deeply committed to developing strong communities and successful citizens”.

The new GEAR UP schools will use the direct funding from the Ford Family Foundation in addition to the best practices, professional development, and other program support from the Oregon University System in five focus areas: providing appropriately rigorous courses with academic and social support; promoting supporting relationships including families, peers and adults; informing students of the right courses needed for college; encouraging career exploration as a tool to understand the value of postsecondary education; and informing students of the financial supports available to pursue their educational goals.

“The Ford Family Foundation recognizes that, in today’s world, education beyond high school through a university, community college, or technical certificate is an essential component to creating successful citizens and vital rural communities,” said John Amoroso, program officer for The Ford Family Foundation’s grant programs. “By partnering with GEAR UP in these 10 new sites, we hope to help raise the bar of success for students in rural Oregon, and the parents, teachers, administrators and communities who support them.”

For more information: Oregon GEAR UP, National GEAR UP program, the Ford Family Foundation.

Oregon GEAR UP is a federally-funded program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enroll and succeed in college. The program is administered by the Oregon University System. 

Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning.