Posts tagged "North High School"

Des Moines program that helps keep at-risk kids on track may be lost

Hoover High School student Saleem Mirzai says the GEAR UP program is helping prepare him for college.

For years, when Des Moines Hoover High School senior Kahdeija Love has needed help in and out of the classroom, advisers with the GEAR UP program have provided it.

But the program — and as many as 13 employees who try to look out for some at-risk students — might not be around after this year because the school district’s application for $1.5 million a year in federal grant money was denied.

When Love was failing math last year, advisers with GEAR UP set up a tutor for her and gave her the additional attention she needed to pass the class. This year, when Love needed support at home after her mother’s death, they were there, too.

They attended her mother’s funeral, came by Love’s house, brought food to the family and started a collection to help Love pay for college.

“There’s a lot of programs that only do so much — they don’t go beyond,” said Love, 17. “GEAR UP advisers do.”

The program’s name stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a federally funded program that Des Moines has used for certain students in the class of 2012 since they were in seventh grade at at-risk middle schools. The goal is to get all students involved in some type of post-secondary education.

Students and advisers say it’s a success. Des Moines has received almost $1.2 million annually since 2006 to run the program, but this is the final year of the grant, and the district renewal application to start with a new group of middle-schoolers in the fall was not accepted.

There were 396 applications nationwide, and 66 were selected for funding. “The competition was really, really high,” said Nancy Wright, coordinator of the program.

The plan is to tweak Des Moines’ application, Wright said, and resubmit it this spring if another competition is held.

If the district does not receive a new grant, it will result in “a huge reduction in staff,” Wright said. The grant pays for Wright, an administrative assistant and 11 advisers housed at the high schools. There is discussion about incorporating some GEAR UP services into the district’s career and college readiness plan.

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U.S. Department Of Education Awards Northwest Denver Schools With $4.8 Million Grant

First Posted: 11/17/11 03:05 PM ET  |  Updated: 11/17/11 03:05 PM ET


A seven-year federal grant of $4.8 million has been awarded to eight northwest Denver schools in the hopes of encouraging and improving college preparedness.

The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) to fund counseling and mentoring services as well as the enrollment of more students in Advanced Placement courses.

The schools that will benefit from the grant are: 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.

"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," DPS Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools Antwan Wilson said.

Although the program’s website says that the grant is specifically geared toward low-income students, nationwide data from this year’s ACT tests indicate that only 25 percent of all students are meeting all four criteria for their first year of college.

"These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement," Secretary Arne Duncan said at the time the composite scores were released.

Colorado had 11 students this year who received a perfect score of 36 on the ACT, none of whom attended any of the northwestern Denver schools.

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