The funding was awarded to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), which will oversee the alliances, including that between Naugatuck Valley Community College and Waterbury Public Schools. The funding is slated to run through 2026.
Through the local alliances, students from high-need areas of Connecticut starting in seventh grade will receive early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, academic preparation, financial education, and college scholarships to improve access to higher education
“GEAR UP will open doors of opportunity for our students in Waterbury, particularly those from low-income and disadvantaged first-generation college attendees,” Waterbury Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Verna D. Ruffin said. “Early awareness and access to highly rigorous courses and support are critically important as we strive to implement Portrait of a Graduate and assure our students are college and career ready.”
“I am delighted to partner once again with the Waterbury Public School system, and in particular in this case, with Superintendent Ruffin, on what has proven to be a very collaborative and positive experience for the students and the communities we both serve," Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis, President of Naugatuck Valley Community College, said. "From the onset of the 2012 grant activities, the Waterbury Team established GEAR UP offices in all of the serving schools, an initiative that remained constant throughout the life of the grant. The GEAR UP offices helped to establish GEAR UP services as an integral facet of each school and assisted staff in developing meaningful relationships with students, school administration, faculty and staff. The results are very positive. For instance, 83.2% of Waterbury GEAR UP students graduated from high school in 2019, a 6.2% increase from 2017. In addition, for the classes of 2018 and 2019, a total of 1,071 students enrolled at either NVCC or Southern CT State University, which means 50% of the cohort enrolled in a CSCU institution as a college student. These students were able to enroll tuition-free thanks to the GEAR UP grant. This is a truly significant achievement.”