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Thomas University receives $2.2 million GEAR UP grant to help middle and high school students

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Thomas University’s Pre-College Programs will now be able to help about 2,000 area middle and high school students prepare for college.

TU previously received the GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant several years ago to fund a program that partnered TU and the Thomasville City Schools. The new $2.2 million grant over seven years will be used in a partnership with TU, Thomasville City Schools, Thomas County Schools, Grady County Schools, Decatur County Schools and Bishop Hall Charter School.

Funding from the grant will help middle and high school students improve their math skills. GEAR UP site coordinators will be embedded in the schools to assist teachers in their efforts. The grant will also fund professional development for teachers, according to Melanie Martin, TU’s Director of Pre-College Programs.

During the first year of the grant, the GEAR UP program will work with students in fifth through seventh grades at the partner schools. Using a cohort approach, each year the program will continue working with the same group of students as they progress to another grade level and add a new group of incoming students. By 2023, the first cohort of students will graduate, Martin said.

Along with the emphasis on math classes, GEAR UP will also provide workshops to improve test-taking strategies on college entrance exams. The TU GEAR UP program will partner with community volunteers to serve as mentors for students, speakers for events and to provide job shadowing opportunities. Students in the GEAR UP program are also encouraged to participate in dual enrollment programs in which they take college courses at the same times as high school courses.

“Our ultimate goal is to get them graduated from college,” Martin said. “We hope that we will impact the number of students going to college.”

The TU GEAR UP program will kick off in January 2017. For more information about the TU GEAR UP program, contact Martin at 229-226-1621 Ext. 1047 or mmartin@thomasu.edu.

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