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Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

July 6, 2006

SCHEV Receives $50,000 Technology Education Grant

—Grant Funded by the AT&T Foundation Provides Training
for Teachers of Low-Income Students in Virginia —

RICHMOND —The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) has been selected as one of only 74 national recipients of the 2006 National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) Promoting Excellence and Innovation in Education grant, funded by the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc.

The $50,000 grant will be used to provide instruction on Microsoft Office software to approximately 60 teachers from the 11 school districts participating in the GEAR UP program. GEAR UP currently serves a cohort of 2,875 students at sixteen high schools from the eastern shore to southwest Virginia. 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.

SCHEV applied for the grant to train teachers using the Lynchburg College Office Tutorial, which takes users step by step through the process of creating functional documents in programs such as Excel, Access, FrontPage, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Outlook. Dr. Thomas Murray, a professor at Lynchburg College and creator of the tutorials, leads day-long instructional sessions for selected teachers as a means of improving educational technology and learning in GEAR UP classrooms.

“We are honored to play a role in creating a professional development opportunity that helps the Commonwealth’s teachers become more comfortable using and sharing Microsoft Office programs in the classroom,” said Daniel J. LaVista, SCHEV Executive Director. “This is particularly important as only two of the 11 participating school districts currently exceed the statewide pass rate on computer/technology assessments.”

Four “Teacher Trainers” from each school have been selected by administrators to attend workshops and communicate information from the sessions to the rest of the school staff. One workshop participant from Buckingham County High School praised the workshop’s “hands-on application and the take-home material, [as well as] the non-technical, friendly lecturing.” She added that she can now create classroom lessons using Front Page and Excel, thus “helping students apply knowledge of course work to [these] programs.”

“AT&T applauds the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for continuing to make college preparedness programs a priority,” said J. Michael Schweder, President, AT&T Mid-Atlantic Region. “Most of the fastest-growing jobs this decade will require education beyond high school. AT&T supports GEAR UP because it will provide students with the tools they need to prepare them for lifelong success.”

In November, 2005, the AT&T Foundation announced that it was providing $5 million to the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) to support GEAR UP. With the grant, the AT&T Foundation – the largest corporate supporter of the public/private GEAR UP partnership – brought its total philanthropic commitment to the program to $10 million.

“Many low-income and minority students face hurdles on the path to postsecondary education and a rewarding career,” said Hector Garza, president of NCCEP. “GEAR UP program practices are an effective catalyst for positive impact on benchmarks ranging from enrollment in academically rigorous coursework to graduation rates. Through the AT&T Foundation’s generous support, more than 150 expanded GEAR UP programs will help youth succeed in middle and high school and prepare for a college-level education.”

A full list of local GEAR UP partnerships receiving grants is available at

About the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
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. SCHEV received a GEAR UP grant in 2000 to work with entire grade levels of students to provide tutoring, mentoring, and information on college preparation and financial aid. Please visit the agency’s web site at

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