On Sunday, Congressmen Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, and the Office of Filemón Vela will announce that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley more than of $21 million over the next seven years, under the department’s Gaining Early Awareness and Reading for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP Partnership) Program.
The funding will provide college-readiness services and scholarships to students from seven high schools in the Rio Grande Valley, to help alleviate the educational challenges faced by low-income students who are preparing to enter into postsecondary education.
“As a firm believer in higher education, it has been one of my priorities in Congress to make higher education more accessible to all demographics, especially those from at-risk and low-income communities,” Congressman Cuellar said.
“GEAR UP is a great program, and today’s federal funds will be a lasting investment in the future growth of our community in the Valley. I thank President Bailey and the UTRGV staff, as well as my colleagues Congressman Vicente Gonzalez and Congressman Filemón Vela, for their dedication and commitment to our students in South Texas.”
Congressman Gonzalez said income level should not determine access to a college degree.
“We must continue to raise all students up and give them the tools they need to enter college and obtain a degree,” he said. “I thank the Department of Education for its continued support of UTRGV’s mission to serve students from all backgrounds in our region.”
Vela, too, restated the commitment to higher education for all students. “The GEAR UP grant will allow UTRGV to groom South Texas high school students for success in higher education,” Congressman Vela said. “Pursing a college education opens up vast opportunities for people, and I’m proud our students will be awarded that chance.”
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said success for all students is the university’s priority.
“The mission of UTRGV’s Student Educational Outreach is to develop and provide meaningful program experiences that positively impact the college preparation, access and degree completion of underrepresented students in the region,” Bailey said. “The GEAR UP program is another example of how UTRGV is having a positive impact on our community by working with students, educators and parents, as we create a college- and career-going culture.
“I would like to thank our congressional delegation – Congressman Cuellar, Congressman Vela and Congressman Gonzalez – for their support, and I thank everyone who was involved in helping UTRGV obtain this grant,” Bailey said.