Alabama State University has been awarded a $24.7 million federal grant to help low-income students in the Montgomery Public School system prepare for and succeed in college.
ASU President Quinton Ross announced the grant today along with ASU Provost Carl Pettis and Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Ann Roy Moore.
“This grant will allow us to do what we do day in and day out, which is to provide opportunity to young people to pursue higher education here at Alabama State University, and to pursue higher education throughout the state of Alabama,” Ross said. “So we’re excited and I’m just so thankful for all of those that worked so hard on this grant.”
Pettis said the program will begin this year working with the approximately 4,500 sixth-grade and seventh-grade students in the 10 MPS middle schools. The program, called “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP), is projected to provide academic help to about 26,000 students over seven years of operation through 2028.
Pettis, vice president for academic affairs at ASU, said the U.S. Department of Education awarded 27 GEAR UP grants out of 156 applications.
“So this was quite competitive,” Pettis said. “Through this, we will focus on student outreach, which is something that certainly is not new to Alabama State University. Everyone is very familiar with the efforts of the university down through the years. And that is something that we hope to continue through this effort.
“We will focus on sixth and seventh grade students and follow them through their matriculation to their first year of college. We will be able to expose them to various things, hard skills as well as soft skills, but with the goal of them matriculating and becoming better academically and scholastically.”
MPS Superintendent Moore said she saw the program as beneficial to the Montgomery community as well as the school system. She said MPS had previously been involved in a GEAR UP program with UAB.
“We want to express our thanks because we are always trying to increase our graduation rate, we are trying to increase the number of students who go to college,” Moore said. “We’re trying to increase those who are ready for careers outside of college. This gives them an opportunity to be exposed to the different avenues of accomplishing those goals.”
ASU will collaborate on GEAR UP with Auburn University, Tuskegee University, Wallace Community College-Selma, Coastal Alabama Community College, Southern Union State Community College, Boys and Girls Club of the River Region, and the YMCA of Greater Montgomery.
“Helping students succeed is what education is all about and GEAR UP at ASU has the potential of impacting the lives and educational opportunities for thousands of area students over the next seven years,” Ross said.