Selma/Dallas County School Systems to launch “GEAR UP” college prep program


Selma/Dallas County, Alabama – Seventh and eighth grade students at R. B. Hudson, Tipton, Keith, and Martin Middle Schools will have extra help preparing for college and career training programs thanks to a new “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP) initiative.  The GEAR UP program focuses on helping students pursue education and training beyond high school, including trade certificate programs, two-year degree programs and four-year degree programs.

Students in this year’s seventh and eighth grade class will have the opportunity to participate in the program now through their graduation and their first year of college or postsecondary study (1yr or 2yrs program).   The GEAR UP Alabama program is coordinated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and funded by the U. S. Department of Education.  Over the next seven years, 50 Alabama schools will participate in the effort.

“The GEAR UP program has been recognized nationally as one of the  most promising pathway to increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter and achieve success in their education and training beyond high school, “Governor Robert Bentley said.  “This grant will help build a solid foundation for our children and will set them up to succeed, by being better prepared for postsecondary education and to join the workforce.”

GEAR UP will offer students the chance to participate in free college tours, academic workshops, tutoring, leadership development classes, career development activities, mentoring, financial aid workshops and college preparation summer academies.  GEAR UP also will offer college-planning and financial literacy workshops for parents, and provide training programs for teachers.

“Alabama’s educators work hard each day to prepare students for lifelong success,” State Superintendent Tommy Bice said.  “The focus is to ensure that our students are both college- and career-ready, and fully engaged in the learning process.  GEAR UP provides us with another outstanding resource to help achieve these goals.  We are proud to be a part of this new statewide partnership to further student academic achievement.”

To kick off the program, Hudson, Tipton, Keith, and Martin Middle Schools will host a “Welcome to GEAR-UP” week of activities from September 14 – 18, 2015.  The closing event will be held at Wallace Community College-Selma on September 18, 2015 from 9:00 – 12:00 noon.  The guest speaker for the event will be Dr. Veronique Zimmerman-Brown.  All 7th and 8th graders at the local middle schools and their teachers will be in attendance.  Parents, family members, and all stakeholders – the community, council members, commissioners, chamber of commerce, business owners, and the media are encouraged to attend.

This marks the first time Alabama has received a Sate GEAR UP grant from the U. S. Department of Education.  To learn more about GEAR UP Alabama and view a list of participating middle schools, visit

Media note:  The GEAR UP Alabama grant is coordinated and funded through the University of Alabama at Birmingham.   For more information about the state-level effort, contact:

Veronique  Zimmerman-Brown, PhD
Project Director
GEAR UP Alabama
University of Alabama at Birmingham
(205) 612-0851
Iona Martin – 334.874-1675 (RB Hudson Middle School)
Mary Cofield – 334.872.8080 (Tipton Middle School)
Jennifer Rogers – 334.872.6417 (Martin Middle School)