Temple partners in $29 million GEAR UP grant for college readiness

Photography By: Ryan Brandenberg
Temple freshman Brianna Morales, the lead coach at Edison High School, engages with students in an English as a Second Language class through the GEAR UP program, which promotes college preparation.
 
Temple University is joining the School District of Philadelphia and other higher education, nonprofit and industry partners to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college.
 
The initiative by the U.S. Department of Education, called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs—or GEAR UP—awards six-year grants to states and partnerships that provide services to middle and high schools with high rates of poverty among their students.
 
“Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to leverage its outstanding colleges and universities, as well as key nonprofit and industry partners, in support of a goal we all share: increasing readiness and access to higher education,” Alexandrea Robinson-Rogers, executive director of college and career readiness for the School District of Philadelphia, said of GEAR UP.
 
GEAR UP grantees serve a cohort of students beginning no later than seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school. Philadelphia’s GEAR UP program, supported by a $29 million federal grant, serves 42 middle schools and 12 high schools, reaching a total of 6,000 students. The most recent GEAR UP grant is the third such grant the district has received from the U.S. Department of Education.
 
“As Philadelphia’s public university, Temple is committed to fostering a college-going culture and supporting the school children in our community,” President Richard M. Englert said. “Temple’s participation in GEAR UP aligns with our many efforts to promote access to an excellent and affordable higher education.”
 
Due to the high concentration of postsecondary institutions in the Greater Philadelphia area, the college and university partners are providing customized services for schools in different sections of the city. Temple is engaging with six high schools and 21 middle schools throughout North Philadelphia and has the largest footprint among university partners. Two full-time GEAR UP coordinators joined Temple’s College of Education to work on the partnership.
 
Patience Lehrman, special assistant to the dean for strategic partnerships and community affairs, is overseeing Temple’s participation in GEAR UP.
 
“We are excited to be part of this robust network of higher education and community partners dedicated to changing the culture of college preparation and success in our schools,” Lehrman said.
 
Thus far, the higher education partners have participated in initial meetings with targeted schools, collected preliminary data on the schools’ existing resources and needs, and recruited partnership coordinators. Temple and other partners are giving students academic tutoring and support, mentoring, after-school programming, college visits and college-readiness workshops, STEM enrichment activities and more.
 
Philadelphia’s GEAR UP grant partners include Texas Instruments, the College Board, the Urban League of Philadelphia/TriZen LLC, International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania with the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND). Under PHENND’s leadership, additional higher education participants include Temple, La Salle University and Bryn Mawr College.