In recognition of the urgent need to help low-income and underrepresented students prepare for a postsecondary education Gov. Mark Dayton kicked off a week of GEAR UP proclaiming Sept. 21st-25th Minnesota GEAR Up Week.
Minnesota receives federal grants through the U. S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP). In conjunction with matching state funds, Minnesota's GEAR UP program, Get Ready, works with thousands of low-income students across the state every year, helping them prepare both academically and aspirational for continuing their education.
"The Get Ready program helps thousands of Minnesota students believe that college can be in their future," said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. "Many of these students will be the first in their family to continue their education beyond high school, and often lack the tools and the help needed to make college possible."
This year, an event was held at the High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) to kick off GEAR UP. Tony Simmons, executive director for the school, said HSRA was chosen to host the kickoff event because of its track record on preparing students for the next step in their academic lives.
"Not only is our mission to make sure young people get high school diplomas, we are very intentional that we make sure they have a post-secondary plan," said Simmons. "We want all our students to be college ready and be able to best provide for their families in the future."
Simmons said he takes great pride in the fact HSRA was selected to kickoff GEAR UP.
"It's an incredible honor and an affirmation of the work we're doing," said Simmons.
In the 2013-2014 school year, more than 5,400 elementary, middle and high school students in the Twin Cities received college awareness and preparation services from Get Ready staff. In addition, Get Ready outreach staff worked with more than 6,700 low-income students in school districts statewide.
Minnesota GEAR UP week kicked off with Get Ready schools reading the governor's proclamation. Students in the participating schools launched a letter-writing campaign to their state and federal elected officials, encouraging continued support for GEAR UP funding. These letters will be hand delivered by some of the students to local congressional offices, as well as the offices of state senators and representatives.