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WSSU selected for $28.2 million, 7-year grant to help students in region prepare for post-secondary education

high school students in breezeway
Regional high school students touring WSSU campus

Winston-Salem State University has been awarded a $28.2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to create and activate a program that will help students prepare for post-secondary education.

The Gear Up Grant is one of the largest grants in the history of Winston-Salem State University and gives the university the opportunity to help change the lives of thousands of secondary students in North Carolina.

“This is an astounding opportunity for so many … for the young people of our state, for the university and for communities across the state,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “It truly is going to be life-changing for so many. It’s going to help assure these future college students will stay the course, graduate and move on to great things in life.”

The Gear Up Grant will impact about 16,000 middle school through college students in three counties over a seven-year period. The county school systems involved include Forsyth, Guilford, and Rutherford in collaboration with Forsyth Technical Community College and Isothermal Technical Community College.

Services provided in the program will include:

  • tutoring
  • academic counseling
  • dual-enrollment opportunities
  • workshops
  • mentoring
  • career exploration
  • job shadowing
  • college visits
  • summer enrichment programming and counseling
  • non-cognitive skill development
  • financial literacy instruction
  • professional development
  • first-year experience courses to seventh year cohort students.

“The Gear Up program’s purpose is to serve low-income students across several counties,” said Kathy Stitts, PhD, who is the project’s principal investigator and WSSU’s associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of the university college. “It starts in middle school and runs through college. The program educates and prepares students and their families about options as they make decisions about postsecondary education.

“This program can change the trajectory of students by systematically preparing and engaging them and their families early in their education journey. Students begin the program around seventh grade as a cohort engaged with academic support, mentoring, tutoring, programming, and other activities. By the time they enter college, there is an increased likelihood for success the possibility of increased learning will have an impact on the students as well as their families and their communities.”

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