California State University, Fullerton has been awarded a seven-year grant that is expected to total $7.2 million to guide seventh-grade students in Anaheim on a pathway to higher education. First-year funding is $1.1 million.
The U.S. Department of Education grant funds the University’s GEAR UP-Anaheim (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) efforts, in partnership with the Anaheim Union High School District, local business and community partners, to provide educational services to help a cohort of students from South and Sycamore junior high schools prepare for and pursue a college education, then enter and complete their freshmen year of college. The University also operates “Cal State Fullerton-GEAR UP.”
“Access programs like GEAR UP are so important,” said Berenecea Johnson Eanes, vice president for student affairs. “For underrepresented students, these programs are like a window to the world. They can have such a great impact. We are very excited about the opportunities we can provide these students.”
“Cal State Fullerton’s GEAR UP-Anaheim program will work closely with its partners to enhance a college-going culture,” said Melba Castro, director of educational partnerships.
The program will be offered to all of the seventh-graders from the two junior highs — approximately 1,500 students — through their years at Anaheim and Katella High schools, as well as their first year of college.
Among the services to be offered:
- Early assessments and college entrance exam support
- College-level course preparation and dual enrollment
- Academic success coaching via peer tutors
- College counseling, including individualized college success plans
- College and career readiness support
- College exposure field trips
- Assistance with financial aid and financial planning for college
- GEAR UP University Saturday and summer academies
- Summer bridge and support during the first year of college
- Parent engagement activities and information
- Professional development for Anaheim teachers and counselors
“Our goals are to increase academic performance, high school graduation rates and college enrollment and success for our students, as well increase students’ and their families’ knowledge of college options, preparation and financing,” said Castro.
“By reaching out to both the students and their parents, and creating a pathway for their academic success, we will be able ensure that they are ready for college and career success,” said Anaheim Union High School District Superintendent Michael Matsuda.
Of the 2008 cohort of GEAR UP-Anaheim students, 85 percent graduated from high school in 2014, and 77 percent enrolled at either a community college or four-year institution. (Related article: GEAR UP Alum Now Leads by Example)
The GEAR UP-Anaheim project will work in partnership with Anaheim Union High School District, the city of Anaheim, Fullerton College, Tiger Woods Foundation, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Orange County Consumer Credit Agency and College Board. The partners are providing in-kind contributions, such as staff time, facilities and mentors.