MARION - Year one of the GEAR UP program in Marion City Schools is in the books, and officials operating the initiative said they're pleased with the results.
"By all accounts, we would deem it a success," Site Director Kelly M. Garrett said. "Last year, we were able to double the number of Harding High School students who completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). We also increased, by over 40 percent, the number of Harding High School students who applied for Marion Community Foundation scholarships.
"We don't feel that we can claim that entire number, because Marion Community Foundation did a great job of marketing in some ways that they haven't before. At the same time, they weren't seeing that kind of growth in other school districts, so I think we can lay a claim to at least a healthy portion of that increase."
GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally-funded grant program that targets middle and high school students.