Two multimillion-dollar grants aimed at increasing high school graduation and college-going rates in the San Joaquin Valley will benefit students in Tulare and Fresno counties at least through 2025.
If UC Merced’s Center for Educational Partnerships has its way, the benefits will last much longer than that.
The UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) has been awarded two GEAR UP grants from the U.S. Department of Education to implement a Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GU Project) in two school districts.
The grants, each for $1.6 million, will be used over seven years to encourage low-income and potential first-generation college students to complete high school and help them apply for postsecondary education and financial assistance. The grants began in September and run through August 2025.
Tulare County’s Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District and Fresno County’s Golden Plains Unified School District are the beneficiaries of the grants. Three hundred students in each district will be enrolled in challenging coursework leading to attaining their high school diplomas, and will receive help completing applications for enrollment and financial aid for postsecondary education.
"UC Merced, through the Center for Educational Partnerships, is committed to providing district, student and parent-centered services that ultimately result in students from the San Joaquin Valley having the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options upon graduation,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Charles Nies said. “The two GEAR UP grants will allow UC Merced to offer low-income, first-generation students the additional resources needed to guarantee their successful transition to a college or university.
These school districts were targeted because of high unemployment, high poverty rates and low levels of academic attainment in the surrounding areas.
“We look forward to working with the two districts for the next seven years and supporting systemic changes that will hopefully outlive the grant," Nies said.