Kentucky awarded $24.5 million grant to increase college enrollment

Jack Dobbs

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has been awarded a $24.5 million grant to increase college enrollment of low-income high school students according to a release by the Council on Postsecondary Education and Gov. Matt Bevin.

The grant comes from a service known as GEAR UP, which “focuses on identifying and closing achievement gaps of low-income, underrepresented, and underprepared students,” according to CPE Vice President Aaron Thompson.

The GEAR UP program, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, aims to increase academic performance, rates in high school graduation and participation in college activities.

According to the CPE, Kentucky is one of only six states to have been awarded a GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Kentucky is only the fourth state to receive this award in 2018. Previous grants amounted to $10 million, $21 million and $26.9 million, respectively.

“Today’s announcement is exciting news for current students and their families,” Bevin said in the release from Tuesday. “By providing early exploration of careers and skill sets, students will make more informed decisions about their education and career after high school.”

Kentucky additionally received three of the 55 nationally awarded partnership grants in addition to the $24.5 million grant. Two of these went to Berea College and the third to the Western Kentucky Educational Cooperative, according to the press release.

“We have worked hard to develop the right balance of services, identify the best partners and engage the ideal school systems. The strength of our proposal was in the partnerships, and we are very grateful for all of those who contributed to making this happen,” Thompson said in the release.

GEAR UP will serve a minimum of 10,000 students in middle and high schools in at least 10 school districts across the Commonwealth. The grant will create support systems for college students through their freshman year.

The CPE will announce the participating school districts later this month, with student services included in the grant scheduled to begin in 2019.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected].