On May 1, more than 200 community members from Southeast Tennessee gathered at Lake Forest Middle School to explore adult learning opportunities in conjunction with Cleveland State Community College , Bradley County School District’s GEAR UP Tennessee Program, and CMT’s Empowering Education, the network’s initiative which encourages viewers to pursue post-secondary education.
This initiative will provide opportunities for parents of GEAR UP participants to earn a college degree before their child graduates from high school. This will enhance the probability for their child’s success in college. The program is called GIG, which stands for GEAR UP Interest Group.
“The goal of CMT ‘Empowering Education’ is to help our viewers navigate the busy and sometimes overwhelming educational landscape,” said Lucia Folk, vice president of public affairs at CMT.
“One of the best ways to do that is by supporting the great work that is being done on a local level. We are thrilled to partner with Cleveland State Community College and Bradley County School District’s GEAR UP Tennessee Program as they launch GIG, an innovative collaboration which will support parents and their children in achieving a college degree.”
“I am proud that Cleveland State is a part of this exciting partnership,” stated Dr. Bill Seymour, Cleveland State president. “Providing educational opportunities for adult students is a significant part of our mission, and we are thrilled that CMT is onboard. While there are many initiatives, such as Tennessee Promise, that focus heavily on traditional-aged students, we want to be very intentional about expanding opportunities for those who are nontraditional ages. This strengthens workforce development and supports the Governor’s Drive to 55.”
The evening began with Cleveland State providing participants with a dinner catered by G’Daddy’s BBQ of Cleveland and an informational fair where representatives from Cleveland State’s Enrollment Services, Financial Aid and OneSource were on hand to assist students, as well as community agencies such as Adult High School of Bradley/Polk Counties, GEAR UP Tennessee/Bradley County, The Caring Place, Community Action Network, Habitat For Humanity and the Refuge.
Participants were given all the tools, assistance and knowledge to become a college student at Cleveland State Community College this fall. Following the informational fair, community members were treated to a concert by artists Judah and the Lion. Also, during that time, CSCC shared success stories of students who returned to school after many years with the goal of inspiring those facing similar challenges to consider furthering their education.
GIG participants are required to :
● Complete a GIG application and interview
● Complete a CSCC application
● Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
● Attend at least two workshops a year
● Meet monthly with the GIG Coordinator
● Provide two hours of service at his/her child’s school or to the GEAR UP program
In turn, participants will receive:
● Tools to help overcome the barriers
● Personal attention by the GIG coordinator
● Assistance completing the CSCC application
● Assistance completing the FAFSA
● A specific Financial Aid Counselor assigned to provide assistance
● Up to $1000 in scholarship dollars each academic year
● Special recognition as a GIG participant
● A certificate or degree (if proper credit hour and grade requirements are met)
“I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the GIG coordinator in its first year,” stated Tracey Wright, director of special programs and community relations. “The GIG program allows Cleveland State to target adult learners, who are difficult to reach. 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.”
GIG applications are due by May 15. Completed applications may be turned in at Lake Forest Middle School, Bradley Central High School or GOAL Academy. For more information on the GIG program or the upcoming kickoff event, contact Wright at 423-473-2341 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.