Students from low-income families in Hawai‘i will benefit from $39 million in federal grants awarded to The University of Hawai‘i. The grants are designed to help increase the number of low-income middle and high school students statewide who succeed in college through GEAR UP, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs from the U.S. Department of Education.
GEAR UP in Hawai‘i has been serving Hawai‘i’s low-income youth since 2000, impacting an estimated 30,000-plus students; the latest round of funding is expected to help nearly 25,000 more students over the next seven years. This is the largest amount of money that the GEAR UP program in Hawaiʻi has received. The federal GEAR UP program provides seven-year, matching grants to states and partnerships for services that improve access to and success in higher education at high-poverty middle and high schools statewide.
“We are absolutely delighted that the federal government recognizes our effectiveness and success over the past 18 years and has committed to continue this significant investment in advancing educational equity in Hawaiʻi,” said UH President David Lassner. “We really appreciate the opportunity to dramatically elevate educational attainment across the state, with a special focus on students who need help the most.”
UH received two partnership GEAR UP grants to work with students in specific communities across the state – one is a $3.5 million grant administered through UH Maui College for students for Kalama Intermediate, King Kekaulike High, Maui Waena Intermediate, and Maui High.
“This funding will allow GEAR UP programs to continue across the state, enabling thousands more public school students to benefit from programs that encourage high school completion, provide tuition assistance for dual-credit programs so students can earn college credit while still in high school, inform students about the college application process and how to apply for federal financial assistance, and facilitate the transition between high school and college,” said U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, who has been a great supporter of the program.
Hawai‘i P–20 Partnerships for Education serves as the lead for the GEAR UP Hawai‘i state grant, which was awarded $28.8 million over seven years. “GEAR UP funds have provided resources for successful programs such as Early College and other academic readiness initiatives,” said Hawai‘i P–20 Executive Director Stephen Schatz. “This is a team effort between the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, the University of Hawai‘i, and many community and business partners. We are all working together to ensure that students everywhere in this state have access to higher education.”
The new state grant will expand on the work that is already underway. “Our vision is to continue to support middle and high schools with programs that enable students to complete high school, navigate the college application and financing process, enroll in college without the need for remediation and be prepared for living-wage careers,” said Angela Jackson, GEAR UP Hawai‘i Project Director of Hawai‘i P–20. “It will also focus on creating stronger career pathway alignment, developing a counseling model for middle school through college and improving financial literacy programs to support low-income students to prepare for and succeed in college.”
Hawai‘i P–20 Partnerships for Education, a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, and the University of Hawai‘i System, strengthens the education pipeline from early childhood postsecondary education and training through data-informed decision making, advocacy, policy coordination and stakeholder engagement; all in the support of student achievement. Hawai‘i P–20’s partners share a sense of urgency about the need to improve Hawai‘i’s educational outcomes in an increasingly global economy, and have established a goal of 55 percent of Hawai‘i’s working age adults having a two- or four-year college degree by 2025. For more information, visit www.p20hawaii.org.
Photo courtesy of UH Hawaii