Blog

Equity in Education

Author: Robert Neese, GEAR UP Executive Director

September 20, 2020

Arizona GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) helps increase educational opportunity and access for middle and high school students living in low-income communities in Arizona. A prosperous Arizona depends on a well-educated workforce, and we believe every Arizona child deserves equal access to postsecondary education. 

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a six-year, $32 million grant to Northern Arizona University to administer Arizona GEAR UP. We are now in our fourth grant cycle and pleased that thousands of Arizona students will receive services. Like previous grants, community partners provide services and resources to meet the grant goals and provide a dollar-for-dollar match. 

During the 2019-26 grant cycle, Arizona GEAR UP will increase:

  1. Academic performance and postsecondary preparation.
  2. High school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates.
  3. Educational expectations for students and increase knowledge of postsecondary options for students and families.

As a result of the financial commitment of the Helios Education Foundation, Arizona GEAR UP provides every senior in 41 targeted Arizona schools a Senior Launch Guide, which helps students launch their postsecondary goals. Every student receives a hard copy of the Guide, and it can be downloaded from the GEAR UP website in both Spanish and English. 

  Getting high school seniors ready for college and other postsecondary options encompass a large part of this grant cycle. The financial support we receive from Helios ensures we help seniors achieve real and lasting success.

During this grant, Arizona GEAR UP hones in on the 5E’s of Equity:

  • Engage communities, educators, students, and families.
  • Empower every sector with the knowledge and tools to overcome systemic inequities.
  • Help create rigorous learning environments where students excel.
  • Elevate expectations for high school graduation and college attainment.
  • Enrich the communities, schools, and families to create a strong and sustainable college-going culture.

Since grant funding began in 2000, Arizona GEAR UP has helped increase graduation rates, built capacity in targeted schools, helped create a college-going culture, and increased the college-going rate among Arizona youth. More than 15,000 students benefited from Arizona GEAR UP in the past two decades.

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