Department of Education Grant Will Help Bridgeport, CT Middle-Schoolers Prepare for College

10/24/2011: On September 30th, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced an award of $7 million to help at-risk students in Bridgeport, CT prepare for college and achieve success in postsecondary education. The funds were awarded as part of the Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).

The winning proposal, submitted by Yale researchers led by Nadia Ward, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, aims to boost academic performance, reduce drop out rates, and diminish engagement in negative health risk behaviors such as substance abuse and delinquency among 1,400 urban middle-school students.

This award is in addition to a 2008 award of nearly $7 million, also a GEAR UP grant, to fund a seven-year longitudinal study of a similar comprehensive intervention program in Bridgeport public schools.

"The Bridgeport school system lacks resources to provide the inventive educational programs and reforms its students deserve. We are optimistic that our interventions will have a measurable positive impact as students move through their academic careers, and beyond, " said Dr. Ward, the project's principal investigator. "Our team is thrilled by this new award that enables us to continue our critical work and expand the number of students and families we serve in the city of Bridgeport.”

The novel program engages not just the students and their families, but provides support and targeted development for teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators with the support of a broad-based collaborative of local agencies.

"We know innovative programs like GEAR UP that intervene early can make all the difference in whether young people go to college," said Secretary Duncan in the press release announcing the awards. "These grants provide the mentoring, support, and financial aid that will give thousands of students a greater opportunity to achieve success in postsecondary education."