$6 Million “Gear Up” for College Grant

College-bound Laurens County School District 56 students will get extra help preparing for college thanks to a $6 million federal grant from the Central Carolina Consortium for the Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant. Dr. David O’Shields, Superintendent for Laurens County School District 56 said “Having the opportunity to provide additional services for students helps them realize their goals as well as provides us with opportunities to network and partner with other districts. This Gear-Up Grant will provide identified students the extra support in academics and in building a college and career ready environment.”

District 56 district teamed up with four districts across the state and has been working for more than two years on the Central Carolina Consortium for the Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant project. The goal of the project is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education without need for remediation. Mrs. Brenda Schrantz, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Laurens County School District 56, worked by partnering with other school districts: Richland 2, Calhoun, Laurens 55, and Sumter. More than 3,378 students will be served through this multi-district initiative over the seven years of the project. The districts will contribute equal in-kind time and effort to ensure the project’s success.

Specific objectives include 1) to increase the academic performance and preparation for post-secondary education for GEAR UP students; 2) to increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in post-secondary education for GEAR UP students; and 3) to increase student and family knowledge of post-secondary education options, preparation, and financing.

The project includes multiple post-secondary education partners including Allen University, Benedict College, Central Carolina Tech., Clemson University, Columbia College, Converse College, Frances Marion, Midlands Technical College, Newberry College, Piedmont Tech, Presbyterian College and the University of South Carolina.

The program includes many activities which are focused on student academic success leading to a successful post-secondary education experience without the need for remediation. In cooperation with the identified partners, the seven-year project will:

* Foster flexible, affordable paths to obtaining knowledge and skills;

* Promote STEM education, with a particular focus on computer science-internships;

* Protect freedom of speech and encourage respectful interactions in a safe environment;

* Foster knowledge and prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, and productive citizens;

* Provide tutoring during the regular school day for students who need additional support;

* Offer after-school tutoring and assistance to enhance core content knowledge;

* Provide mentoring services for students to be provided with an exemplary role model;

* Host teacher professional development on research-based instructional activities;

* Align curriculum with the state’s rigorous requirements;

* Provide summer programs including post-secondary visits for students and their families;

* Offer college counseling by partnering institutions of higher education and other agencies;

* Provide continuous financial literacy workshops hosted by specialized partnering agencies.