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GEAR UP NCE Project: A Bridge to Completion

Jeannine Huenemann


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Students participate in college signing day at Logan High school.
Logan High School seniors at college signing day in 2019
High school graduates from the USU STARS GEAR UP program participate in Greenpower.
The USU Aggie Recharge Greenpower car team will continue in 2020

The Utah State University STARS! program has received a no-cost extension (NCE) from the Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The NCE gives the USU STARS! GEAR UP grant one program more time to spend down remaining funds and serve their established community.

In 2012, USU STARS! GEAR UP received $15 million for its first grant to serve 2,793 students, starting in middle school. As of 2019, the program supported 3,370 students in 19 schools throughout northern and central Utah, and eastern Nevada over seven years. It also supported 1,900 students starting their first year of college. The program focused on academic preparation and the creation of a college-attending culture in the schools it served. As a result of this grant, graduation rates are up and more students are going to college in these GEAR UP schools.

This NCE project will bridge the gap between 12th grade and postsecondary options to a group of around 1,500 students. These students include 2019 high school graduates and 2018 high school graduates who have not yet enrolled in college. Staff involved in helping these students include Program Coordinators Kyle Lund and Taylor White, Data Specialist Doug Reiter, Business Assistant Ami Israelsen, and Project Director Jim Dorward.

The goal of the NCE project is to coordinate support and deliver services to help these students to identify and enroll in postsecondary academic/certification programs of study. To this end, the NCE project will include 24/7 mentoring and tutoring support, credit recovery courses, financial aid information for students and parents, college visits, and online career counseling. Our partners in these efforts include the Princeton Review and, Student Success Agency, the Signalvine, Xcaliber/Scribe, RGI Corporation, and the colleges and universities in Utah.

The NCE project will sponsor a team of students to build a second prototype Greenpower electric car to compete in the 2020 Utah Greenpower Electric Car Challenge. USU STARS! GEAR UP grant one sponsored its first team in 2019 to involve and support first year college students. The team, called Aggie Recharge, included college students at USU interested in engineering or computer science, that graduated from GEAR UP high schools. These students worked with mentors to retro-fit a used F24 Greenpower kit car with the new technology. It was powered by solar panels and charged wirelessly as it drove over a charging pad in the roadway.

USU STARS! GEAR UP has brought significant college access advancements to the schools that it has served over the past seven years. Through the generous continuation of the GEAR UP partnership grant, the NCE project looks forward to supporting a targeted group of students in seeking postsecondary academic/certification programs of study in the coming year.