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Contact:  Kathleen Kincheloe
(804) 786-2323
For Immediate Release

August 3, 2006
SCHEV Awarded $18 Million Federal GEAR UP Grant
2006 GEAR UP Program To Expose 6,000 Virginia Students
to Benefits of Postsecondary Education


RICHMOND — The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) has been awarded $18 million in federal funding for its 2006 GEAR UP grant proposal. GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal grant program that funds partnerships to help low-income students enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Virginia, one of only seven states awarded the 2006 GEAR UP grant, will receive $3 million in federal funds each year for the next six years, for a total of $18 million through 2012. Participating school divisions across the state must match the federal funds dollar for dollar through monetary or in-kind donations, including such resources as building facilities, teacher salaries, and volunteer time. In all, over 6,000 Virginia seventh graders attending 47 schools in 26 school divisions will participate in 2006 GEAR UP programming.

“Agency personnel worked incredibly hard on the proposal for this funding and we are thrilled with the news that we are one of the few states selected for the grant,” says Daniel J. LaVista, SCHEV Executive Director. “This hard work, as well as the support of Governor Kaine and Secretary of Education Morris, has given SCHEV the funds and the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Virginia Department of Education to close achievement gaps and increase test scores, while simultaneously promoting access to the state’s varied postsecondary educational opportunities.”

The 2006 GEAR UP program will target early intervention services to under-represented students and focus on exposing all Commonwealth students and their families to the benefits of pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities. In addition to coordinating with existing intervention programs in critical gateway courses, such as math, science, and foreign language, GEAR UP schools will partner with Commonwealth colleges, universities, and private businesses that can mentor and motivate at-risk students.

The funding also will be used for initiatives designed to help Virginia families overcome language and cultural barriers, challenging the mindset of those students who assume that postsecondary education is not an option for them. GEAR UP grant funds will be used to institute Neighborhood Academies where students and parents can find resources and academic support in their home communities. Additionally, GEAR UP participants and their families will be given opportunities to visit Virginia colleges and universities by attending workshops, family weekends, and summer enrichment programs on campuses across the state.

SCHEV’s grant proposal was selected for funding based, in part, on recommendations from a team of peer reviewers, according to James L. Davis, GEAR UP Team Leader for the U.S. Department of Education. The application was rated highly by the group, he writes in a letter to SCHEV, “because of its potential for significantly increasing the number of low-income youth in [Virginia] who will be prepared to attend college.”

This is not the first GEAR UP grant for the agency, which was awarded a 5-year grant in 2000 and a 1-year extension grant in 2005 to follow cohorts of students at 16 Virginia schools from seventh grade to high school graduation.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. Additional information is available on the agency web site at

For more information, contact Elizabeth Wallace, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804)225-2627.