A new program set to be launched with an event tonight could help some parents of local school children further their own educations while their children are furthering theirs.
Cleveland State Community College, the Bradley County school system’s GEAR UP program, Country Music Television’s Empowering Education campaign and other education-oriented groups are joining together to introduce a program called the Gear Up Interest Group.
Back in 2012, the Bradley County Schools system received a $846,300 “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant was designed to benefit students at schools with large populations of low-income students by providing extra college readiness programs.
When the grant was originally announced, Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said it would “provide much-needed support and resources” for students at three local schools: Bradley Central High School, Goal Academy and Lake Forest Middle School.
Now, the parents of students at those schools could soon also benefit by receiving “last-dollar” scholarships at Cleveland State, and similar resources, to help them pursue higher education.
Adult students working on earning their GEDs through the school system’s adult education program will also be eligible.
“The GIG program allows Cleveland State to specifically target adult learners, who are difficult to reach,” said Tracey Wright, the college’s director of special programs and community relations. “We have carefully put together a program with the support needed to help the GIG participants successfully complete a certificate or degree program before their son or daughter graduates from high school.”
With the exception of adult students who have not yet finished their GEDs, all participants must commit to graduating by May of their students’ high school graduation years. In addition, they must also follow requirements like having to spend at least two hours of volunteer service to their child’s school or the Gear Up Interest Group program each month, and attending two workshops for program participants each semester.
Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State, has compared the Gear Up Interest Group program to Tennessee Promise, a program that was recently mandated by the state to provide extra funding for students right out of high school.
More details on eligibility and program requirements will be given tonight at Lake Forest Middle School, beginning at 6 p.m. Representatives from all the groups involved will be set up in the cafeteria at that time with information about the new program.
At 7, representatives will host a more formal introduction to the Gear Up Interest Group and all it entails in the school’s auditorium.
As the program being introduced includes a partnership with CMT, it has decided to provide some post-announcement entertainment. Country music band Judah and the Lion will perform.
Admission to the information session and the concert is free, but the event requires tickets. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
If an eligible student would like to be part of the program but cannot attend tonight’s event, he or she can call 423-473-2341 for more information.