Alabama State University’s efforts to serve the Montgomery community — and specifically students in high-poverty areas of the city — got a major boost on Wednesday, as university officials announced a $24.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support low-income students seeking a higher education.
Specifically, the grant will fund ASU’s “GEAR UP” — or “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” — a program aimed at increasing the number of low-income students in the Montgomery Public Schools system who are prepared to enter college. The seven-year grant will ultimately provide academic preparation services for more than 26,000 students.
“One of the goals of the University’s GEAR UP program is to foster flexible and affordable paths to obtaining knowledge and skills, building capacity for remote learning, and addressing the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health and their individual academic outcomes within MPS,” ASU president Quinton Ross said. “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.”
GEAR UP will provide services to high-poverty, middle and high school students, starting with 4,495 sixth- and seventh-grade students who study within all ten MPS middle schools. The grant will continue to provide services to the cohort as they enter MPS high schools.
Ross said the program will include a number of community partners, including other colleges around the state.