School District of Philadelphia awarded $29.5 million Gear Up grant

South Philadelphia High School.—submitted photo

Tribune Staff Report

The U.S. Department of Education announced that the School District of Philadelphia will receive a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant.

The $29.5 million grant will be dispersed over a period of seven years to support college-planning and readiness services for twelve School District of Philadelphia high schools and 30 middle schools.

This marks the third consecutive GEAR UP grant that the District has been awarded. The program is designed to bring college preparation and awareness to students in economically challenged communities and help bridge the economic gap between themselves and their more financially advantaged peers by pursuing a college education. The School District of Philadelphia serves as the fiscal agent of the Philadelphia GEAR UP Network.

“This grant goes a long way in supporting our students with post-secondary awareness, exposure and access,” said chief academic support officer of the School District of Philadelphia Malika Savoy-Brooks in a statement.

“Grants like these help increase college acceptance and success by providing our students with critical early college awareness and support,” she added. “We are proud of our work with the GEAR UP program and are thankful to our team and partners for making this possible for our students.”

GEAR UP serves and follows cohorts of students. Through this grant, the program will serve nearly 5,500 students from the graduating class of 2027 and 2028 at the GEAR UP high schools with college visits and tours, ACT and SAT test preparation workshops, tutoring, mentoring, support around school selection, leadership and instructional coaching, summer opportunities for students and family activities and support. Student programming and services resulting from this grant cycle are expected to begin this Spring.

Temple University, Community College of Philadelphia, City Year, Urban League of Philadelphia, Collegeboard, CoolSpeak, and Philadelphia Education Fund are among the partners for the grant.

The high schools, which were selected based on high school graduation and college enrollment rates, include: The Academies at Roxborough High School, A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical School, Ben Franklin High School, Edison High School, John Bartram High School, Frankford High School, Horace Furness High School, Martin Luther King High School, Parkway Northwest High School, Samuel Fels High School, South Philadelphia High School and Strawberry Mansion High School.

The program starts in the high school’s feeder schools. Supported middle schools, which were selected based on enrollment, include: Dr. Ethel Allen School, Mary M. Bethune School,George W. Childs School, Roberto Clemente Middle School, Benjamin B. Comegys School, Anna B. Day School, Julia De Burgos School, D. Newlin Fell School, Thomas K. Finletter School, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Warren G. Harding Middle School, Francis Hopkinson School, Juniata Park Academy, Kenderton Elementary School, Eliza B. Kirkbride School, Delaplaine McDaniel School, S. Weir Mitchell Elementary School, Honorable Luis Munoz-Marin School, Potter-Thomas School, E. Washington Rhodes Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, George W. Sharswood School, Southwark School, Spring Garden School, Allen M. Stearne School, John H. Taggart School, General Louis Wagner Middle School, Laura W. Waring School, Grover Jr. Washington Middle School and William H. Ziegler School.

According to the GEAR UP Impact Report for the 2019/2020 school year, students with greater participation in the program showed positive outcomes related to academic, attendance, and behavior performance.

The report also found that GEAR UP students with medium and high program dosage had significantly higher fall college enrollment rates than students in a rigorously-matched comparison group, and students with high dosage also had significantly higher high school graduation rates than comparison group students.

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