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GEAR UP TN 2017

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Tennessee Announces $11.68 Million in Awards for GEAR UP TN College Readiness Grants

Contact: Courtney Rogers
Courtney.Rogers@tn.gov
615-741-8957
Press Release (PDF)

Tennessee Announces $11.68 Million in Awards for GEAR UP TN College Readiness Grants

NASHVILLE – April 18— Students in 15 Tennessee counties will benefit from over $11.68 million in funding to support college access and success efforts thanks to a federal grant. The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, which aims to increase the number of low-income students in Tennessee who are accessing and succeeding in higher education. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which secured the federal grant, announced the communities that will be a part of Tennessee’s GEAR UP project, GEAR UP TN, following a competitive selection process.

Selected GEAR UP TN middle and high schools are located in the following counties: Anderson, Bradley, Campbell, Davidson, Fayette, Haywood, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Lincoln, Meigs, Overton, Polk, Robertson, and Shelby. GEAR UP TN will provide services in 32 middle schools and 18 high schools statewide. In total, over 23,000 middle and high school students will directly benefit from GEAR UP TN services through 2024.

GEAR UP TN will provide academic readiness and college access services to a cohort of 3,500 students in participating schools. Students in the GEAR UP TN cohort will receive tutoring, career guidance, comprehensive college advising, and mentoring that will continue through their first year of postsecondary education.

Additionally, over 3,250 high school seniors at participating high schools will receive GEAR UP TN support during each year of the grant. Statewide services, including resources for fostering a college-going culture and a college access and success website, www.CollegeforTN.org, will serve over 35,000 students across Tennessee.

“We are thrilled to work closely with these 15 communities through the GEAR UP TN grant,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “Each of these communities brings a willingness and readiness to innovate and work relentlessly to ensure their students are ready to succeed in college.”

This is Tennessee’s third GEAR UP grant. Tennessee’s first GEAR UP TN project, which began in 2005, resulted in a 22.8 percent increase in college-going rates in the nine rural school districts. Communities served by Tennessee’s second GEAR UP TN grant, which began in 2012, have shown impressive results, including over 9 percentage points of growth in college-going rates since 2012. Tennessee was one of ten states awarded a GEAR UP grant as part of the 2017 competition.

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The Tennessee Higher Education Commission was created in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly. The Commission develops, implements, and evaluates postsecondary education policies and programs in Tennessee while coordinating the state’s systems of higher education. There are nine public universities, two special purpose institutes, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology in Tennessee that educate nearly 250,000 students annually.

GEAR UP TN Counties

Tennessee’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs project, GEAR UP TN, will provide up to $9 million in grants to eligible high schools and their partners to implement college access initiatives.

Interested schools should review the following materials and deadlines for the Spring 2018 semester:

GEAR UP TN Collaborative Selection Timeframe
Item Date/Deadline
THEC Releases GEAR UP TN Request for Proposals 01/08/2018
GEAR UP TN Program Overview Webinar 01/18/2018 at 10 a.m. CST
GEAR UP TN Program Overview Regional Meetings 01/23/2018, 01/25/2018, and 01/26/2018
Submission of Notice of Interest 01/31/2018 by 4 p.m. CST
Deadline for Receipt of GEAR UP TN Proposal 02/23/2018 by 4 p.m. CST

Resources:
Grant Match Resources
GEAR UP TN Selection Process PowerPoint
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Frequently Asked Questions
Sample GEAR UP TN Site Coordinator Job Description
Grant Writing Webinar
Grant Writing Webinar PowerPoint

If you would like more information about GEAR UP TN and the selection process, THEC staff are hosting several informational opportunities both via webinar and in person. Webinars and in person meetings will provide an overview of the GEAR UP TN program, grant eligibility requirements and commitments, elements of the application, and grantee selection process. While not required, those who are interested in submitting a proposal are encouraged to attend. 

Webinar: A recording of the technical assistance webinar hosted January 18th can be viewed here. You may also download the accompanying slide deck via this link

Regional Meetings: THEC will host 3 regional meetings across the state during the week of January 22nd. Please click here to register for a regional meeting.

Middle Tennessee: Nashville, TN West Tennessee: Jackson, TN East Tennessee: Knoxville, TN
January 23, 2018 January 25, 2018 January 26, 2018
9 a.m. - 11 a.m. CST 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. CST 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. EST
Belmont University Jackson State Comm. College Sara Simpson
First Lecture Hall
Inman Health Sciences Bldg.
4th Floor
Ayers Auditorium,
McWherter Center
Professional Development Center

This fall, the United States Department of Education awarded a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). GEAR UP, a seven-year discretionary grant program, aims to increase the number of low-income, first generation students who graduate from high school and enroll in college. Tennessee’s GEAR UP project, GEAR UP TN, will provide direct services to a cohort of 3,250 students, the Class of 2023, beginning in the 8th grade and continuing through the cohort’s first year of postsecondary education. Each year, GEAR UP TN will also provide assistance to seniors with college-enrollment and financial aid processes.

Driven by the belief that every student has the potential to attend and thrive in postsecondary education, GEAR UP TN aims to dramatically increase the number of Tennesseans accessing and succeeding in higher education. GEAR UP TN works with communities through a Collaborative model, where an eligible high schools partners with: 1) feeder middle school(s) with at least 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch; 2) their local board of education; 3) at least one postsecondary institution; and 4) at least two community-based organizations or local businesses to form a GEAR UP TN Collaborative.

GEAR UP TN Collaboratives are selected for funding through a competitive application process. Each Collaborative will be awarded a subgrant that will allow for the hiring of a program coordinator and the implementation of GEAR UP TN services. These services include, but are not limited to: mentoring, academic interventions, college visits, career exploration, parent workshops, educator professional development, etc.

To be eligible for GEAR UP TN, high schools must meet two requirements: 1) have a college-going rate at or below the state average, based on the most recent three years of data; and 2) have at least 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. Based on THEC data, your school meets the college-going rate requirement.

Eligible high schools will partner with: 1) feeder middle school(s) with at least 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch; 2) their local board of education; 3) at least one postsecondary institution; and 4) at least two community-based organizations or local businesses to form a GEAR UP TN Collaborative.

Multiple eligible high schools within a single school district may partner in forming a GEAR UP TN Collaborative as long as the total 12th grade class size is less than 400 students.