The University of Texas at El Paso’s GEAR UP program has received a $13 million, 6-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will help more than 2,700 students get more out of high school and navigate the path to college.
The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP, program will provide comprehensive support to students in 10 Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) middle schools through academic counseling, tutoring, mentoring, community service opportunities, academic workshops and activities, college tours, college and career awareness and readiness activities, and financial aid planning.
Juliette Caire, who has been the director of GEAR UP since 2001, said the new grant’s main goal is to assist students in preparing for and attending college.
This six-year grant will follow and support all members of the class of 2024 enrolled at the 10 YISD middle schools through their high school graduation.
“We are very grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of Education and for their investment in UTEP and YISD,” said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs at UTEP. “The GEAR UP program has proven to be a catalyst for educational attainment and progression to a post-secondary degree. This grant will result in more students completing high school and pursuing a college degree. What a great win for El Paso!”
UTEP’s GEAR UP program has served area students since its first grant cycle in 1999.
The next group of students for the program will be pulled from Bel Air, Camino Real, Desert View, Eastwood, Indian Ridge, Parkland, Rio Bravo, Riverside, Valley View and Ysleta middle schools.
“We have three goals: one is increasing the academic readiness for postsecondary education,” Caire said. “Everything we do for the seventh grade through the 12th grade is increasing academics, knowledge of navigating the postsecondary application process, increasing knowledge about degrees and careers, and very important, the financial aid process.”
Since 1999, UTEP’s GEAR UP has secured more than $49 million in research grants and has guided 10,688 students in the Ysleta, Socorro and El Paso independent school districts.