Gear Up Grant

Seven Kentucky counties, five of which are in South Central Kentucky, recently received a grant totaling $5.4 million.

The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative obtained the grant, which will encourage students to look at post secondary opportunities beyond high school.

It's a six year project that will impact over one thousand students in the class of 2012.

Alex Fitzpatrick, the secondary supervisor of instruction for Edmonson County Schools, says historically his county has a low number of residents who attended college.

"I think the number I've seen is about nine percent college graduates," Fitzpatrick said. The school district is working to raise that number.

"We're trying to immerse them in a culture that promotes those opportunities for them."

A grant from the U.S. Department of Education is working to help school districts do just that. It's called the Gear up Grant and its focus is to create a stronger college going culture.

"Many of our students just don't have that. They don't feel like college is for them, it's for somebody else with more resources or a better environment," Fitzpatrick said.

The grant will follow the class of 2012 from the 7th grade through high school. The students will be shown post secondary opportunities with cultural events and college visits.

The grant will also provide support in math, especially Algebra 1. "It's the number one predictor of failure in high school. If a kid fails Algebra 1 they're much more likely to drop out of school," Fitzpatrick said.

When the students get to high school, Fitzpatrick says they'll get more of feel for the college experience. "When they get in high school we're looking for more advanced placement courses and dual credit courses, so that they get some college experience while they're still in high school."

Barren County, Cumberland County, Glasgow Independent, and Todd County also received the grant.