• by Paul Slocumb •

Sul Ross State University has been selected to receive over $900,000 in new funds for its Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP).  This budget year’s grant will be for $938,400, and the total for seven years is expected to be $6,277,600, according to the U.S. Department of Education which made the selection.

Sul Ross’ GEAR UP serves area low-income students from seventh grade through their first year of college by providing tutoring, mentoring, career planning, parent and student financial aid and economic literacy workshops, college visits and educational/cultural trips, community service projects, and college scholarships.  More than 1,100 GEAR UP students from the Alpine, Del Rio, Fort Davis, Fort Stockton, Marathon, Marfa, Presidio, and Terlingua school districts will be served by the seven-year grant.

“Receiving this award is both an honor and a sign of recognition for everyone involved in our Program,” said Sul Ross GEAR UP Director Monica Gonzalez.  “Being in a region filled with small towns, it sometimes feels like our students’ potential can be overlooked, but this grant shows that we are making a difference in their lives.  We are expanding their educational experience and closing the learning gap.”

Gonzalez added that GEAR UP’s broader purpose goes beyond helping students earn college degrees.

“Our vision is to bring together different communities for a common goal which is a lifetime of success,” she said.  “We see social-emotional learning skills as the essential foundation for this success, both in higher education and beyond.  When students develop positive relationships with others, that helps them problem-solve and persevere through every stage of life.  And better prepared students ultimately means stronger communities.”