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Hurd Champions Educational Opportunities through GEAR UP Reauthorization

April 13, 2018
Press Release
Program offers grants for low-income students

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a competitive grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Education designed to increase the number of low-income students prepared for college and their careers by providing counseling, tutoring, mentoring and scholarships for middle school and high school students. Hurd’s GEAR UP for Success Act, introduced with U.S. Representative Susan Davis (CA-53), increases the eligible uses of this scholarship funding, codifying the awarding of these grants through routine competitions, and reducing the burdens imposed by the federal government on the grantees.

“Ensuring access to educational opportunities for all Texans – regardless of their background – strengthens our economy, drives technological advancement across every industry and allows folks to overcome socioeconomic challenges that are influenced by education inequality,” said Hurd, who represents 45 middle and high schools served by the GEAR UP grant program. “GEAR UP serves thousands of local students in my district and gives them the tools they need to become valuable contributors to our workforce. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that every student has an equal chance for success.”

“GEAR UP has a proven track record of success in inspiring and preparing students for education beyond high school,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. “This legislation reduces costs to free up time and money for grantees to focus on students and gives local leaders more freedom to decide how best to tailor the program for their specific needs.”

“I'm proud to join my colleague, Congressman Hurd, to lead this critical education bill,” said Rep. Davis. “The Gear Up program has a proven track record of success, helping students get to and through higher education. Investing in our students is a direct investment in our future.”

“This grant program allows Sul Ross to continue serving students of the Big Bend region, as we have capably done since 2005,” said Sul Ross State University President Dr. Bill Kibler. “GEAR UP programs at Sul Ross have supported thousands of students from seventh grade through their first year of college, with programs ranging from academic tutoring to financial assistance literacy to tours and on-campus experiences.  We look forward to enhancing post-secondary opportunities through GEAR UP for the future.” 

"SAISD has been proud to receive GEAR UP funding over the past 13 years to help ensure our students have a strong pathway that leads to college and career success,” said San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez. “We are delighted to see Rep. Hurd introducing this important piece of legislation that will benefit students here in Texas-23 and across the country." 

The 23rd District of Texas is one of the nation’s largest beneficiaries of GEAR UP grants with millions of funding awarded to San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), Sul Ross State University, and the University of Texas at El Paso, among others. SAISD partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Communities and Schools and UTSA to provide GEAR UP services to students. Sul Ross partners with San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Presidio ISD and Terlingua ISD to provide services. UTEP partners with CommUNITY en Acción, El Paso Electric (for mentoring) and many others.

Senator Cornyn has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.