GEAR UP Alabama brings college and career readiness to Black Belt communities

GEAR UP Alabama and UAB will provide college and career counseling to south Alabama students.

Bus1Students residing in Alabama’s Black Belt will have the opportunity to receive mentoring and education from University of Alabama at Birmingham students, faculty and staff through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs “Black Belt Friday Bus Tours.”

During the tours, students will learn the history of the Black Belt and receive college and career counseling. The goal — to significantly increase the number of students from high-poverty backgrounds who attend and succeed in postsecondary college and career opportunities. 

“The bus tours to the Black Belt will allow UAB students, faculty and staff to share in the lives of the GEAR UP Alabama students,” said Tonya Perry, Ph.D., principal investigator for GEAR UP Alabama and professor in the UAB School of Education. “When we travel, we have a chance to mentor and advise 11th- and 12th-graders, and it is one way to connect with the students and give back to our community, at least for one day.”

In partnership with the Atlanta-based nonprofit, Let Us Make Man, GEAR UP will make five stops on the 2019-2020 bus tours. The stops include: 

  • Goshen High School, Oct. 11
  • Choctaw County High School, Nov. 8
  • Montgomery County, Jan. 10
  • Hale County, Feb. 7
  • Lowndes County, March 6
To secure your ticket for the bus tour, click here

GEAR UP Alabamais a competitive grant program of the United States Department of Education. Its mission is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing states and local community-education partnerships six- to seven-year grants to offer support services to high-poverty middle and high schools.

In the fall of 2014, the UAB School of Education was awarded the state grant, thus GEAR UP Alabama was born. Servicing nearly 9,300 students in 42 schools across 21 school systems throughout the Black Belt Region of Alabama, GEAR UP Alabama has five objectives to meet the overall goal established by the grant: 

  1. Increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education for GEAR UP students.
  2. Increase the rate of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education for GEAR UP students.
  3. Increase GEAR UP students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation and financing.
  4. Increase percentage of GEAR UP students who enroll in and succeed in postsecondary education.
  5. Increase the preparation of the project teachers and staff to teach and serve GEAR UP students.