Campus: San Josť State University -- November 2, 2000

SJSU Awarded $5.7 Million Grant To Help Middle School Students Pursue College

San Josť State University has been awarded a five-year grant, totaling $5.7 million, to help 1,522 disadvantaged middle-school students from east San Jose prepare for college. The grant is the largest awarded to any educational institution in California this year from the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). It is the second GEAR UP grant SJSU has received in as many years.

The academic program will focus on math and reading. Each school will have instructors in math and reading, as well as specialists in computer technology, counseling, and parents trained to work with students in the classroom and after school.

"Research tells us that early intervention and mentoring significantly increase the chances that low-income, disadvantaged students will enroll and graduate from college if they are given help at an early age," said Andrew R. Hughey, SJSU professor of education and principal investigator for the GEAR UP project.

Hughey said the GEAR UP program tells students that if they aim high and aspire to college, they will receive help with counseling, mentoring, tutoring and financial aid. "The program sends a message that with high hopes and hard work, students can go as far as their abilities will take them," he added.

He noted the ultimate success of the project will depend on the ability of SJSU to facilitate learning at all levels among students, parents and teachers. "Effectiveness will rest upon a true paradigm shift - students will believe they are capable of going to college, parents will believe their children are capable to going to college, and teachers will believe all of their students are capable of going to college."

The SJSU project, which will be operational in January, will track students in the Fischer and Mathson middle schools of the Alum Rock Union School District and the Fair and Sylvandale middle schools of the Franklin-McKinley School District. Students also will be assisted as they transfer to high schools in the Eastside Union High School District.

Several community organizations will be involved with the project, including the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Clara County, who will mentor students. The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a non-profit organization new to Silicon Valley under the leadership of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, will network with corporations to provide mentoring partners with the students.

Scholarship funds for college will be provided by the Educational Achievement Institute, a non-profit community organization committed to raising $1 million over the next five years.

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