Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for College Access and Success

News & Features

Friday, September 26, 2014

Northeastern Illinois University, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) District 299, has been awarded a $40 million grant over seven years by the U.S. Department of Education to help at-risk students prepare for success in postsecondary education.

Under the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 41 grants across the county, totaling $82 million.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the grantees in New York City on Sept. 22 at the launch of American Graduate Day, a public awareness and community engagement program to celebrate the work of individuals and groups across the country who are helping students stay on track to college and career successes.

The award to Northeastern, the largest of the 41 grants, will serve 7,229 students across 14 Chicago public high schools and 36 elementary and middle schools. The award amount is $5,783,200 for each of seven years beginning in 2014 and ending in 2021, totaling $40,482,400.

“Student success is always our primary goal at Northeastern, and our efforts start early,” said Sharon Hahs, president of Northeastern Illinois University. “This grant will allow us to continue the good work we have done in collaborating with schools, families and communities to develop students who not only plan to attend college, but are also well prepared to succeed when they get there.”

Northeastern’s Center for College Access and Success (CCAS) will oversee the delivery of the project. CCAS and the CPS office of College and Career Preparation will work together with other partners to increase the academic performance and preparation of GEAR UP students; increase the high school graduation rate and college enrollment and graduation rate; and increase students' own educational expectations by deepening their knowledge about postsecondary options and financial aid.

“GEAR UP impacts the students it serves and it systemically creates a college going culture in schools and communities that ultimately shifts the national landscape around college access and success,” said Wendy Stack, associate vice president and executive director of the Center for College Access and Success. “When our young people from low income communities are provided with the support to graduate from high school, then enroll and graduate from college, their lives and their families' lives change.”

Founded in 1978, the Center for College Access and Success is the largest school improvement organization in Chicago and develops collaborative partnerships that engage the entire community to help students succeed academically and socially.

In addition to the 41 new grants announced Sept. 22, GEAR UP is funding 87 continuation projects begun in the last five years that are providing comprehensive support services to approximately 450,000 middle and high school students across the country.