A program designed to increase the number of low-income students prepared to succeed in college will be aimed at the so-called “Corridor of Shame.”
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $3.5 million grant to the GEAR UP program. GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The program will provide partnerships and services at high-poverty middle schools.
GEAR UP will serve over 3,600 7th graders in 24 targeted schools. Eighty-five percent of the schools are along the I-95 Corridor, in the area a 2005 documentary dubbed the “Corridor of Shame.”
The South Carolina Commission for Higher Education will administer the grant. It is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
Currently only 50 percent of students in the target schools transition from high school to college, versus 66 percent statewide.
The GEAR UP program is aimed at addressing the systemic problems that plague the targeted schools. The programs and services provided by the GEAR UP grant are meant to address gaps in students’ academic performance. It will also seek to increase the number of students prepared to enter and succeed in higher education and the knowledge of students and their families about higher education options and financing.
The grant will support: service coordination, college/financial aid counseling, school/business/community partnerships, professional development/curriculum improvement, mentoring, tutoring, and summer programs.
“Education provides the best opportunity for students to succeed in life. This grant will open up those doors of opportunity for students in persistent poverty areas who have the most to gain by improving their educational attainment,” 6th District Congressman James Clyburn said in a statement. “This program targets middle school students and works with them through graduation and into their first year of higher education to maintain the level of support that will lead to successful outcomes.”