In 2011, Milwaukee Public Schools was awarded a seven-year, $14.87 million federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant to promote college awareness and readiness at selected schools. Local matching funds brought the total grant opportunity to nearly $30 million. The project supports students from the high school classes of 2017 and 2018. For the upcoming school year, we will support students in grades 9 and 10 at eight participating high schools.
An important component of the TEAM GEAR UP grant is the opportunity for MPS to create and solidify relationships with key business and community partners as well as to establish a pipeline to Wisconsin colleges and universities. Through TEAM GEAR UP, MPS has built strong partnerships with Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, University of Wisconsin—Madison, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh.
Some of the outcomes of TEAM GEAR UP thus far include the following:
- Over 900 parents have graduated from the Milwaukee Parent Institute (MPI) provided by GEAR UP in the last three years. The MPI will now be used across the district by Milwaukee Public Schools.
- Summer credit recovery sponsored by GEAR UP resulted in 93% of the students (433 ninth graders) earning credits, helping students stay on track to graduation. In fact, 88 students were promoted from ninth to tenth grade as a result of summer credit recovery reducing the gap in ninth grade promotion rates between GEAR UP and non-GEAR UP schools.
- Increasing student access to pre-college programs hosted by Milwaukee Area Technical College, University of Wisconsin—Madison, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh.
- Providing college tours and visits to nearly 3,000 students during the 2015-2016 school year.
- Increasing the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. More than 27% of all juniors in GEAR UP schools took an AP class.