In the News

UNC Asheville is partnering with Appalachian State University to increase the number of students in eight Western North Carolina counties who are prepared to enter and succeed in college, as part of the GEAR UP program funded by grants from the U.S Department of Education.

GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – is designed to support students as they progress through three distinct transitions: 1) college awareness and readiness; 2) college enrollment; and 3) college achievement, by employing evidence-based support services and resources that are early indicators and predictors of success.

UNC Asheville will offer services and resources to students, parents and teachers in Alleghany, Clay, Graham, Madison, Rutherford, Swain, Wilkes and Yancey counties. GEAR UP will begin with middle school students and expand one grade level each year as students advance through high school and into their first year at a community college or four-year university.

“We are excited to join in this multi-university effort to boost educational achievement across the region,” said UNC Asheville Provost Joseph Urgo. “Here in Asheville, our students and faculty have long been involved in boosting college awareness and readiness through the city school system’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Now, we are moving forward with GEAR UP to expand our engagement with young people throughout Western North Carolina.”

As part of GEAR UP, UNC Asheville will offer its growing roster of professional development seminars, with topics including math, art, chemistry, genetics, and culturally relevant pedagogy to K-12 teachers in the eight target counties. The university also will make available its innovative precollege awareness programs that allow students and their families to think critically about college match and fit; and overnight summer enrichment programs will give students a sample of college life.

UNC Asheville will hire a GEAR UP coordinator to serve as the liaison to school districts connecting teachers, students and parents to campus resources. The GEAR UP grant will cover program activities for seven years; UNC Asheville’s annual GEAR UP budget will be $150,000.

Appalachian State University is coordinating GEAR UP project activities in a total of 11 WNC counties; other partners also include Western Carolina University, Isothermal Community College, Tri-County Community College, Wilkes Community College, Discovery Place and the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

For more information, visit oscopp.unca.edu/gear or contact Annie Burton at aburton3@unca.edu or 828.251.6498.

Source: Asheville Citizen-Times