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Rep. Fattah announced that GEAR UP received $301 million in the government spending bill signed this week; the college readiness program will hold its annual practitioner conference in Philadelphia this February

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19. 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), architect of GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), hailed the college readiness program's continuation of funding in the recently signed spending bill as a success for the initiative that aims to send more students from low-income backgrounds to college. GEAR UP will be funded at $301 million in FY15, part of the Department of Education's overall budget.

Since its establishment, GEAR UP has received $4.8 billion in federal funds and served more than 13 million students nationwide with its unique, research-based model. The program serves cohorts of students as early as 6th grade, creating a college-going culture in collaboration with schools, colleges, universities, and nonprofits within each community.

"The continued bipartisan support for GEAR UP is a testament to the increasing success of the program," Congressman Fattah said. "We know GEAR UP works in preparing low-income students for a bright future that not only includes graduating from high school, but pursuing opportunities in higher education. This funding will provide hundreds of thousands more students—including many here at home in Philadelphia—the preparation, resources, and support necessary to reach their full potential."

"We are delighted that Congress has appropriated $301.6 million to sustain the GEAR UP program in 2015. Knowing how challenging the process was, all of the communities served by GEAR UP are deeply appreciative of Congressman Fattah's efforts to ensure that college readiness and success remains a national priority," said Nathan Monell, President and CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. "Higher education is the key that can unlock opportunities for low-income students everywhere and this investment is sure to pay dividends in the future."

Earlier this year, it was announced that Philadelphia will receive $29 million in GEAR UP funds over a seven-year period. The new funding will support GEAR UP programs at 35 elementary and middle schools in the School District of Philadelphia. In addition, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education will receive $22.1 million over the same period to support state-wide GEAR UP efforts.

College access and higher education remains one of Congressman Fattah's top legislative priorities as he enters his 11th term in Congress this January.

Congressman Fattah recently announced that the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) will hold its GEAR UP Capacity Building Conference in Philadelphia this coming February. The conference will bring as many as 1,200 practitioners, grantees, and educators to the city for a four-day workshop designed to strengthen GEAR UP programs in local communities across the nation. Fattah will address attendees at one of the conference's keynote events.

"It is fitting that our NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop will be returning to Philadelphia given the city's central role in the creation of the national program and its success as a GEAR UP grantee," Monell said. "More than 1,200 educators will be converging downtown to share education best practices and innovations, and the City of Brotherly Love will make for an extraordinary setting for this hard work."

In 2013, the New America Foundation called GEAR UP "the most promising" of all similar college-access federal programs, and a Foundation report urged a tripling of funding for the program.

To learn more about NCCEP and GEAR UP click here.

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SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah: Virtual Press Office (press release)