Federal Grant to Boost Low-Income LA College Success

In attempt to encourage students from low-income families to prepare for college, the government has awarded California State University, Dominguez Hills nearly $3.6 million as part of a seven-year Department of Education Gaining Early Access Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP).

As part of the grant, the university is partnering with the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), and Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Bethune Middle and John C. Fremont Senior High schools, says a press release.

It's a prescient issue. The National Center for Education Statistics says that only 55 percent of students from low-income families go on to college from high school compared to 84 percent that go to college from high-income families.

And now, using the grant, the California State University will work toward shrinking that gap locally, writes Amy Bentley-Smith at CSUDH News.

"Beginning with this year's seventh grade class at Bethune, CSU Dominguez Hills and LAEP GEAR UP staff will implement a college preparatory program that will follow students as they progress to high school and graduation at Fremont," writes Bentley-Smith.

For every year of the program, students will be given advising, tutoring and academic programs, all gearing up to helping them succeed in high school and then when advancing to college.

The grant will also help provide "a rigorous secondary curriculum coupled with excellent teaching, workshops on financial literacy, time management and careers, and college campus visits."

The plan also looks to bring organizations together. The GEAR UP team will be joined by Southwest College, LAUSD's Beyond the Bell afterschool program, the Unusual Suspects theater program and Community Coalition to assist efforts to bring more unlikely students academic success.

Sue Borrego, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at CSU Dominguez Hills said:

"One of the primary goals of the grant is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and success in higher education through a systemic network of support for adults who influence middle and high school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders, and families.

"This expanded organizational capacity is expected to result in a higher portion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that historically have not pursued a college education, enrolling and succeeding in college."

In its first generation, the stimulating grant looks to support students from 7th through 12th grade. But, if the plan is a success and yields good results, the sky's the limit for the project, which could see other schools institute best practices toward increasing college-going rates for all their students.

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