CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Schools system has a new grant to fund its efforts to get more high school graduates to further their education.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will give Bradley $846,300 over the next seven years to create services for families and students in specific schools.
The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Education's GEAR UP program, aimed at encouraging more students from low-income families to enroll in post-secondary schools.
Bradley is one of 16 grant recipients statewide and the only recipient in Southeast Tennessee.
"We believe all students deserve access to post-secondary education," Bradley schools Director Johnny McDaniel said in announcing the grant. The grant, he said, will support and prepare students to be ready for careers or college.
Patti Hunt, Bradley County Schools grants coordinator, said Thursday the funding begins Jan. 1, 2013.
Bradley County Schools will form a local collaborative to provide services aimed at Lake Forest Middle School, the GOAL Academy and Bradley Central High School, officials said.
Bradley Central and GOAL were the only local schools on the Higher Education Commission's list of schools qualified to apply for GEAR UP Tennessee, Hunt said.
"We begin with the feeder school's seventh-grade class [class of 2019] to Bradley Central and any of those students that would be at GOAL. This would be the seventh-grade students at Lake Forest Middle School this year," she said. "The grant serves this population each year along with the senior class at [Bradley County High School] and GOAL each year."
Local partners include Cleveland State Community College, Lee University, the Bradley County Board of Education, the Oasis Center, the Centers for School Climate and Dropout Prevention, the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation, tnAchieves and Chattanooga's Public Education Foundation.
"We have already met and planned the skeleton of the programs," Hunt said. "There will be future meetings and planning sessions as the program develops, and [we'll] make adjustments as necessary."
Services include one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, college visits and financial aid counseling. The grant includes funds for recipient counties to hire a local site coordinator and funds for a public outreach campaign.
GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, a U.S. Department of Education program.
The grant complements another grant won recently by Bradley County Schools, a federal one that creates small learning communities within larger high schools based on grade level or career interests.