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GEAR UP and The Ford Family Foundation launch funding of 16 rural Oregon schools to increase college-readiness

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)

10 school districts in Douglas, Curry, and Coos counties will receive $35,000-$45,000/year for six years

Eugene – April 18, 2011, School representatives from ten communities in Douglas, Curry and Coos counties convened today at the Douglas County Public Library in Roseburg, Oregon to kick off their selection into the GEAR UP program and begin planning how they will leverage funds to promote student success and college readiness. GEAR UP (an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) works to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The Oregon University System has been a recipient of a federal GEAR UP grant since 2002 and currently supports 12 rural communities across the state. School clusters, generally a middle and a high school, receive funding to implement community-specific plans to create a college-going culture, starting in the 7th grade and continuing through high school graduation. By partnering with The Ford Family Foundation, GEAR UP is expanding to 16 new schools in 10 new school districts, chosen through a competitive process. The school districts in Douglas, Curry, and Coos County will receive $35,000-$45,000 a year for six years to invest in programming to increase college readiness.

"All of our new partner communities have shown a commitment and readiness to engage students in college preparation and success," said Stephanie Carnahan, director of the Oregon GEAR UP program. "Thanks to the collaboration with The Ford Family Foundation, we can further our state-wide initiative of the importance of education beyond high school and help more students on a path to success."

Representatives from all 10 school districts attended, including those from Camas-Valley School District (SD), 21J, Coquille SD 8, Douglas County/Roseburg SD 4, Elkton SD 34, Myrtle Point SD 41, North Douglas SD 22, Port Orford-Langlois SD 2CJ, Powers SD 31, Reedsport SD 105, and Yoncalla SD 3. Attendees spent the day learning best practices from a rural district in Washington State that has used their experience with GEAR UP to create a consortium approach to improve college-going rates, as well as understanding the logistics of the program and the theoretical model behind Oregon GEAR UP.

This GEAR UP model focuses on "Five R’s" to help guide the efforts of the schools and program partners: providing appropriately rigorous courses with academic and social support; promoting supporting relationships including families, peers and adults; informing students of the right classes needed for college; encouraging career exploration as a tool to understand the relevance of postsecondary education; and informing students of the reality of affordability of higher education.

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. Currently, the Oregon GEAR UP program sponsors middle and high schools in 12 communities: Brookings, Cottage Grove, Glendale, Irrigon, La Pine, Merrill, Aurora, Grants Pass, Myrtle Creek/Canyonville, Stanfield, Sweet Home and Lincoln City.

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.

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