Posted on 11-24-2011
DPS: $4.8 million to improve college-readiness
Denver Public Schools has been awarded a seven-year grant from the US Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) to support and improve college-readiness programs for students who attend schools in the Northwest Denver community. The $4.8 million grant over seven years will support the following schools in Northwest Denver: Bryant Webster K-8 School, Centennial K-8 School, Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center, Contemporary Learning Academy, Lake Middle School, North High School, Skinner Middle School and Trevista K-8 School.
Over seven years, the GEAR UP program will follow all current 6th- and 7th-graders at five middle and K-8 schools in Northwest Denver. During that time, GEAR UP students will receive regular counseling and mentoring and are expected to enroll in more Advanced Placement, concurrent enrollment and accelerated courses to help better prepare them for college and career after high school graduation.
“An integral component of the DPS GEAR UP project is to encourage GEAR UP students to take AP courses and enroll in other academically rigorous opportunities so they can graduate from high school ready for college,” said Antwan Wilson, DPS Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools. “Students must be encouraged and supported as they develop a vision of their future and life after DPS. This grant will support our schools in doing that.”
The grant will support DPS’ efforts to foster college-going cultures in eight schools – the five where the GEAR UP students begin in 2011-2012 as well as the three high schools where they are expected to graduate (North High School, Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center and Contemporary Learning Academy.)
“The GEAR UP grant provides valuable support, especially in these challenging financial times,” said DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Northwest Denver schools have posted strong student achievement improvement in recent years under much-needed reform efforts, and the additional college readiness and counseling support that they will receive under the GEAR UP grant will have an important impact on school culture and graduation rates.”
The DPS GEAR UP program is expected to improve the district’s on-time graduation rate, the number of students who complete the Free Financial Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and the number of students who are accepted to college.
Focused on four areas—academic rigor, personal and pro-social behaviors, college and career preparation, and data gathering and analysis—one of the key components of the GEAR UP grant is increased academic counseling services for students. Each of the participating Northwest Denver schools will receive student counseling support so each student will be paired up with a counselor, who will help students create a vision of his/her postsecondary life. Counselors will also offer additional career planning and college-preparation support via mentoring. Counselors will be trained to support students at risk of academic failure due to emotional or behavioral problems and will provide those students with additional supports. Counselors will regularly monitor student challenges such as a student who demonstrates issues related to attendance and completion of their courses.