Contact: Di Saunders - Cell: 503-807-5539; Office: 503-725-5714
Source: David McDonald - Cell: 541-954-9610; Office: 541-346-5729

Oregon University System's GEAR UP Academic Enrichment Program Initiates 

Multi-million Dollar Scholarship Fund
Funds will help under-served students across the state attend college


PORTLAND, May 8 - The Oregon GEAR UP program, designed to increase the number of low-income 

students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college, kicked off the creation of a major scholarship

fund with a $1.25 million investment. GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness 

for Undergraduate Programs. The award ceremony took place at noon at The Oregon Community 

Foundation annual meeting at the Portland Convention Center, attended by more than 700 donors and supporters.

Richard Jarvis, chancellor of the Oregon University System (OUS), presented The Oregon Community Foundation the first of five $1.25 million contributions that GEAR UP directors hope will spur a scholarship fundraising effort netting at least $15 million from private sources such as businesses, foundations and individuals. The OUS scholarship funds, and new contributions that organizers hope to raise, will be used to create a trust fund supporting the college attendance of students at 33 middle and high schools in 16 communities across Oregon that are part of Oregon's GEAR UP Network. The scholarship funds were 

awarded to The Oregon Community Foundation acting as fiscal agent, which will work with the Oregon 

Student Assistance Commission (OSAC), to manage oversight of the fund. OSAC will manage the 

distribution of the scholarships to students in the program once they begin college. Last year, Oregon 

received a $12.5 million federal GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education that was matched 

with $13 million in state, private and in-kind funds, a requirement of the grant. A portion of that award was 

to fund scholarships.

"GEAR UP represents one of the most effective education collaborations in the state right now that directly serves students and provides enrichment to Oregon communities," said Jarvis. "We believe strongly in the potential of Oregon's youth to achieve at higher levels and ultimately attend and succeed in college. This

seed money for scholarships represents only a piece of our commitment to support the aspirations of young people to go to college, graduate, and become contributing members of their communities," added Jarvis.

The sixteen participating GEAR UP schools are organized into geographic clusters made up of a high school, one or more feeder middle schools, and one of the seven universities in the OUS. Eligibility to receive GEAR 

UP funds is based on a middle school population where at least 50% of the students receive free or reduced lunch; 67% of students in the Oregon GEAR UP programs receive free or reduced lunch. Cities and towns 

with active GEAR UP programs include three clusters in Portland, two clusters in Salem, and clusters in Independence, Chiloquin, Eagle Point, Hermiston, Cave Junction, Madras, Coos Bay, McMinnville, Oakridge, Springfield and Woodburn. Currently, more than 4,100 diverse students, one-quarter of whom are students 

of color, are being served through GEAR UP programs in just the first year, in eleven counties in Oregon. 

These schools represent about one-third of the middle schools in Oregon that meet the GEAR UP low-income criteria for participation in the program.

With a goal of increasing the number of students in these communities academically prepared to enroll in 

and succeed in higher education, GEAR UP offers academic preparation, teacher professional development, college awareness activities, tutoring, mentoring and scholarships for students who complete the program 

and engage in postsecondary education. Additionally, GEAR UP works to align curriculum between middle 

and high schools and higher education, and involves and trains parents to provide encouragement and 

support to students with their studies at home. All 7th grade students in GEAR UP schools are eligible to participate, and the program follows the students into high school and through graduation.

"All Oregon students have the potential to succeed in college, but do not always receive the targeted 

assistance they need to thrive academically," said David McDonald, GEAR UP project director, and director of enrollment and student services for OUS. "Through GEAR UP, students gain both the aspirations, and the educational tools they need to be prepared for the academic rigor of higher education," added McDonald.

GEAR UP is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Education, active since 1999, that provides grants to states and partnerships to provide academic support services at high-poverty middle and high schools. Nationally, more than 600,000 students in 800 school districts are served through GEAR UP programs and partnerships that also involve 1,000 businesses, community and nonprofit organizations. Thus far, GEAR UP has awarded 272 grants totaling $615 million in program funds nationally. 

Additional GEAR UP partners involved in the Oregon program include: the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Education Association, Center for Applied Second Language Skills, The College Board and American College Testing (ACT).


Click here to view the OUS GEAR UP Fact Sheet.

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. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, 

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