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San Leandro prepares for the end of school grant

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San Leandro prepares for the end of school grant

The eight year grant will expire on June 30.

The eight year grant will expire on June 30.

Photo | Kris Stewart

The eight year grant will expire on June 30.

Photo | Kris Stewart

Photo | Kris Stewart

The eight year grant will expire on June 30.

Kris Stewart,
Online Editor

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At a May 20 school board meeting, San Leandro High School parents encouraged board members to keep a college prep program that will lose its federal funding June 30.

GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs and is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The GEAR UP program is designed to create a college going culture in local schools.

The grant started in 2006 and followed a group of students since their eighth grade year, providing academic services that were not available before the grant.

The grant is currently in its last year and is scheduled to end on June 30.  Services offered by the GEAR UP program included tutoring, California High School Exit Exam courses, ACT and SAT prep courses, college field trips, parent and student workshops and much more.

The program focuses on low-income youth who are primarily minorities. Most, if not all will be the first in their family to be admitted to college.

Parent Liaisons advise students and assist families with college readiness. They create a 4-year plan and partake in one-on-one counseling with students and families.

They offer academic and financial advising, information on how to apply and pay for college, assistance with the financial aid and Gal Grant process, help with personal statements, resume writing and a series of other things needed for academic and personal success.

Parent Liaisons assist parents with creating a structured environment for college bound students that sets higher standards and expectations for their child. In 2006, 78 percent of parents in the program now expect their child to attend a university and attain a baccalaureate degree.

LaTasha Warmsley, a parent liaison, expresses her passion for the job as well as the necessity for services such as the ones GEAR UP provides.

“This is important as many students don’t apply to college due to lack of information or simply not knowing how to, or because they assume they can’t afford it. We empower students and families by giving them information in a way that they can understand it,” said Warmsley. “The information we give does not just change one life, but it helps to change the thought process in terms of college for entire families.”

“Lots of schools are moving towards technology based programs and are losing the human component,” she added.

Warmsley is concerned that without face-to-face services like these, students will not get the attention they need in order to advance. “The college process is isolating as it and with technology pushing us towards less and less human contact, we may lose some of these families all together,” she said.

Warmsley is also concerned with the push to tie some of these services to the already overwhelmed counseling department.

Speaking to the historic nature and relationship that minorities may have with seeking help with counselors and seeing school as more hands-off, Warmsley says, “By serving as liaisons, we have the unique advantage of getting parents engaged in their students education and once we do that, we know that statistically and realistically, their student will do better. Parent Liaisons are there to catch those students, get them on the right track and support them until they reach the next step.”

Representatives from GEAR UP attended the school board meeting to voice their opinion in hopes that a decision will be made in favor of the students. Towards the end of the meeting, the school board requested a budget to show them what it would take in order to keep the parent component of this program.

The California GEAR UP program was established in 1999. Since its birth, $162 million has been awarded in direct and matching funds.

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California State University East Bay
San Leandro prepares for the end of school grant