Finding solutions

In 2014, UAB became the hub for a seven-year, $24-million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness of Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The GEAR UP Alabama initiative has the goal of increasing college and career readiness for nearly 11,000 high-school students in 17 Black Belt counties. “The first three years were spent creating a foundation for students,” says Tonya Perry, Ph.D., principal investigator for GEAR UP Alabama and a professor in the UAB School of Education. “Now that they are all in ninth and 10th grades, we are building on that earlier infrastructure by providing additional opportunities for students, such as dual enrollment, strategic camp experiences, ongoing ACT review, and mentoring and advising sessions to prepare them for college and careers.”

CSOB-moneycampHands-on activities like the Money Matters financial literacy camp at the UAB Collat School of Business give students from Alabama’s Black Belt practical help to get ready for college — and life.

“We recognize that parents and families are the first teachers and, ideally, the greatest influence in a child’s life. As we work to create a college-going and career culture in our schools, and mindset in our students, we understand the need for a total paradigm shift — one that includes parents and families.”

Students are receiving intensive academic tutoring and mentoring, and both students and their families learn more about financial literacy and health and wellness in GEAR UP workshops. Dozens of UAB students, faculty, and staff have visited Black Belt high schools for one-on-one mentoring. Summer enrichment mini-camps this summer gave more than 1,200 GEAR UP students the chance to spend time at UAB, sitting in on classes, touring campus, and becoming familiar with university libraries.

“We recognize that parents and families are the first teachers and, ideally, the greatest influence in a child’s life,” says Perry. “As we work to create a college-going and career culture in our schools, and mindset in our students, we understand the need for a total paradigm shift — one that includes parents and families.”

 

Support college and career readiness for low-income students in Alabama.

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