$24 million federal ‘GEAR UP’ grant awarded to West Virginia


A sheet of $100 bills (Nexstar, file)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will receive a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant.

The $24 million grant will be used to support college-planning and readiness services for eleven West Virginia counties over the next seven years.

This marks the third consecutive GEAR UP award that the Commission has been awarded.

“This grant will go a long way over the next seven years toward helping more of our young people pursue their college and career dreams,” said Governor Jim Justice. “I’d like to thank our U.S. Senators, as well as Chancellor Tucker and her team, for their hard work in keeping this program going for our kids.” 

The program will include chances to join free college tours, ACT and SAT test preparation workshops, tutoring, mentoring, financial aid workshops, and college preparation summer academies. There will also be college-planning workshops for parents and training programs for teachers.

“This is absolutely tremendous news for some of West Virginia’s most deserving and rural communities. I’m really proud of our team and partners for their hard work in securing this meaningful funding,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “Through GEAR UP, we’ve been able to provide nearly 840,000 hours of help to students, parents and teachers in the college-going process. Now, we can continue this work for thousands of new students.”

Supported counties include:

  • Boone
  • Clay
  • Lincoln
  • Logan
  • Mason
  • Mingo
  • Nicholas
  • Roane
  • Wayne
  • Webster
  • Wirt

The classes of 2028 and 2029, who are enrolled at eligible schools, will receive services from their seventh-grade year to their first year of college. GEAR UP will also provide annual college-planning services to 12th grade students all the way to their their first year of college.

Glenville State College, Marshall University and the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College “will provide staff and resources to support the effort.”

“I have experienced firsthand how the West Virginia GEAR UP program helps students discover opportunities to continue their education beyond high school and the message of affordability,” said Taylor Raby, a 2014 West Virginia GEAR UP alum. “I credit the program for helping me select my postsecondary pathway. I have witnessed those lightbulb moments that students have when they discover education is attainable, and GEAR UP helped do that for me.”

For more information, visit www.wvgearup.org.

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