Warren's grant was one of 45 awarded out of 300 applications.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The city schools have received a $1.6 million grant to be used over five years to encourage low-income pupils to pursue higher education.
The GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, comes from the U.S. Department of Education, and its purpose is to increase the number of low-income pupils who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.
"This will be a tremendous boost for the Warren City School district," said Superintendent Betty J. English.
The program focuses on middle school pupils and follows them through to graduation. The money also will be used to align the curriculum to ensure that pupils are being challenged as well as prepared for college.
The school district was one of 45 GEAR UP grants awarded nationally of the 300 districts or institutions that applied.
John Wilson, the district's director of outreach, said while some people grow up planning to go to college, it's something others never think about.
A 2000 Case Western Reserve University study found the Youngstown-Warren area near the bottom of the 75 largest metropolitan areas in the nation in educational attainment.
The program has three components: Academic preparation, college access and professional development.
The school district will work with Youngstown State University, Kent State University-Trumbull Campus and the Mahoning Valley College Access program to expose pupils to more information about college.
The first step is forming an advisory council and hiring a full-time project coordinator.
The program involves mentoring, adding reading labs at each middle school for reading intervention support, developing after-school and summer learning opportunities and buying curriculum materials for the new math and reading focus at the schools.
Wilson said the program also will help parents learn about and apply for financial aid for college.
"We want students to prepare, think about and plan for college in the early grades," he said.
The program will officially start next month.
"In five years, I think we'll be able to sit here and have some kind of a celebration," Wilson said.