Simpson University Receives $4.8 Million Grant for GEAR UP Program

REDDING, Calif. – For the second time in six months, Simpson University has been awarded nearly $5 million in federal grant funding to help boost higher education success rates among Northern California students.

In partnership with College OPTIONS Inc., Simpson University will oversee a seven-year, $4.8 million GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant that will serve more than 800 students in 10 middle schools and nine high schools in Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, and Modoc counties.

The grant was one of 24 GEAR UP awards given nationwide this year.

Simpson University and College OPTIONS Inc. will implement GEAR UP in the following middle schools: Butte Valley, Dunsmuir, Burney, Weaverville, Happy Camp, Los Molinos, Buckeye, Modoc, Weed, and Shasta Lake; and in these high schools: Butte Valley, Dunsmuir, Burney, Happy Camp, Los Molinos, Central Valley, Trinity, Weed, and Modoc.

GEAR UP is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. In that sense, it is similar to the federal Upward Bound program, for which Simpson University was awarded $5 million in June to work with four area high schools for five years.

GEAR UP provides a site coordinator at each school, who will follow a class from sixth through 12th grade, offering trips to college campuses, financial aid information, individualized tutoring, personal career exploration, and more.

The GEAR UP initiative began in 1999 and has had “phenomenal success,” said Lianne Richelieu, chief executive officer of College OPTIONS Inc. Students who participate in GEAR UP have a 30 percent to 40 percent greater likelihood of pursuing higher education than those not in the program, she said.

“We will be able to provide services to students in remote, rural areas who would not otherwise have access to the intensive, directed, college-focused resources GEAR UP provides,” Richelieu said.

Between Upward Bound and GEAR UP, Simpson University will be able to impact an estimated 1,000 North State students and their families by working with them toward higher education and career training.

“We are grateful to have these two opportunities to make a difference locally,” university President Robin Dummer said. “One of our longterm commitments as a university is to serve our geographic region, and these grants give us a unique way to do exactly that.”

Other GEAR UP community partners include the McConnell Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Shasta College, CSU Chico, Southern Oregon University, ICC (California Education Round Table Inter-Segmental Coordinating Committee), North State Together, and county offices of education in Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity and Modoc counties.

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