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Program will push college enrollment

COAL GROVE – Southern Ohio students now have a little more money backing up a program to help them get to college.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

COAL GROVE – Southern Ohio students now have a little more money backing up a program to help them get to college.

The Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education received a five-year grant, worth $412,000 each year, from the U.S. Department of Education’s new Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP program, recently.

And Dawson-Bryant Middle School will be one of six southeastern Ohio public schools to benefit from the grant, which is designed to encourage more young people to prepare for and go to college, said Wayne White, OACHE executive director.

"Five member institutions and six school districts submitted a proposal for funding for ROAD MAP: 2005 – Realizing Our Academic Dreams: A Model Access Project," White said. "I think there were several factors why we received funding. First of all, the OACHE consortium has sponsored access programs in public school districts in southern and eastern Ohio. And we have averaged increasing the college going rate by 20 percent the first year and 34 percent the first and second year combined."

OACHE formed in 1993 after Bob Evans, a member of the Ohio Board of Regents, commented to one of the local college presidents that something needed to be done about the number of students who did not participate in college, White said.

"With that, the president met with the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents and Bob Evans to discuss the situation," he said. "From that came funding from the Ohio Board of Regents to commission a study as to what percent of Ohio Appalachians participated in college, and, more importantly, what were the barriers to college."

The study was completed in 1992, and the Ohio General Assembly funded and opened the Ohio Appalachian Center of Higher Education, White added.

"That’s the consortium we call OACHE," he said.

Since OACHE’s formation, access programs involving the 10-member public colleges and universities have dramatically increased the area’s college populations, White said.

"These programs, most of which are two-year programs, have averaged increasing the college going rate by 20 percent the first year and 34 percent the first two years combined. We have completed 40 such projects in the schools and we have 21 such projects selected to begin this year."

In addition to those 21 access programs, the GEAR UP grant will allow OACHE to expand its operations, White added.

"This year’s seventh-graders will graduate in 2005," he said. "We will take the cohort group of seventh-graders in the participating schools and work closely with those students through graduation. The activities will include mentoring, counseling, shadowing, college visits, career awareness, course selection and, in general, assist the students of this area in overcoming barriers that oftentimes prevent Appalachians from participating."

Other schools participating in the ROAD MAP: 2005 program will include Buckeye North Middle School in Jefferson County, New Lexington Middle School in Perry County, Roseville Middle School in Muskingum County, Trimble Middle School in Athens County and U.S. Grant Middle School in Scioto County.

OACHE is headquartered at Shawnee State University.