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September 26, 2023

Maine Delegation Announces More than $4 Million for Maine GEAR UP Program

GEAR UP Maine has helped more than 29,000 students across the state attend college

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, have announced the U.S. Department of Education has awarded the University of Maine $4,058,656 for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Maine RISE program. GEAR UP Maine, run by UMaine Farmington and the non-profit Syntiro, has helped prepare Maine students for postsecondary education since 1998, including more than 29,000 students since 2007.

“For decades, GEAR UP has helped to provide a solid foundation for students across Maine who at times might have felt that opportunities for a postsecondary education were financially out of reach,” the Maine delegation said. “By equipping our young people with the resources and guidance needed to build a brighter future we are, in turn, making investments in the future of Maine.”

“We are incredibly pleased to have GEAR UP funded in Maine again,” said Debbie Gilmer, GEAR UP Maine Project Director. “This multi-million dollar investment in youth from Maine's most rural and economically disadvantaged communities, including a GEAR UP scholarship program, will help address the inequities facing rural students, their families and their communities.”

"The University of Maine at Farmington has a long history of supporting the success of students from rural communities, the first in their families to pursue postsecondary education and other underserved students. Over the last 25 years, the GEAR UP program has transformed the futures of thousands of Maine students by raising their aspirations and preparing them to affordably attend and complete college, helping more of Maine’s young people reach their full potential through this proven program,” said University of Maine Farmington President Joseph McDonnell. "We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Education has agreed to fund this program to continue this work and grateful to Sens. Collins and King and Reps. Pingree and Golden for their ongoing support of our partnerships with Maine students and schools."

GEAR UP Maine has prepared economically disadvantaged students in Maine for college by providing tutoring, mentoring, academic and career counseling, and exposure to college campuses since its establishment in 1998. Many of the participants of the program go on to earn college scholarships.

Over the course of seven years, the annual $4 million grant funding will allow the program to follow cohorts of seventh graders through the first year of their post-secondary experience. GEAR UP Maine has 53 school partners located in Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Somerset and Washington counties.

The Maine delegation has been supporting GEAR UP Maine for many years. In 2021, with the understanding of how many students GEAR UP supports, they challenged the Department of Education when it rejected UMaine’s application for a renewed GEAR UP grant. They have also secured millions of dollars for the program in prior appropriations spending bills.


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