As the start of a new school year inches closer, Iowa Department of Education staff in the Bureau of College Student Aid today launched the GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready Kickoff, designed to prepare educators, counselors and administrators for the upcoming year.

More than 50 school staff members from GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready's 11 partner school districts will convene at the Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny campus to learn critical information about the upcoming year, collaborate and construct the details of their planning and programming for the year.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Iowa Future Ready is currently funded through the American Rescue Plan. It is a four-year project that supports a cohort of students beginning in the ninth grade and follows them as they progress through school while supporting the graduating class at partner schools each year.

The program supports underserved students as they prepare, enroll and persist through college. Through GEAR UP grants and partnerships with local school districts, students and their families receive a variety of services aimed at preparing them academically, financially and inspirationally to enroll and succeed in college.

Each of the 18 participating schools from the 11 districts have selected interventions for academic assistance, college and career exposure, family engagement and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work and life success. Those interventions will serve a cohort of nearly 5,000 students in those districts.

"The kickoff is an opportunity for us to connect with our GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready school district teams just before the school year begins to revisit programmatic priorities and team goals," said Karmon Long, GEAR UP program coordinator at the Iowa Department of Education. "Our staff is excited to strategize and provide support for the successful implementation of our partner schools' plans."

Department staff in the Bureau of College Student Aid aim to lead attendees using ACT results to identify curriculum gaps, support students, plan college campus visits and align GEAR UP services with each partner's district career and academic plan (DCAP). Staff will also provide guidance on creating college and career exposure at the middle school level and strategies to engage families.

The participating districts are Centerville, Clinton, Columbus Community, Davenport, Davis County, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Saydel, South Tama and Storm Lake.

Learn more about GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready.

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