LA Receives the GEAR UP Grant!!!

Post date: Apr 18, 2018 4:52:15 PM

Livingston, TN (April 18) - The Tennessee Higher Education Commission announced today that Overton County Schools/Livingston Academy is the recipient of a $832,395 GEAR UP grant over the next six years. The grant funds will provide services to students and families with the aim of increasing enrollment and success in postsecondary education.

The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, which aims to increase the number of low-income students in Tennessee who are accessing and succeeding in higher education. Overton County Schools/Livingston Academy is one of 15 communities selected to receive funds. The communities were selected through a competitive application process by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the administrator of the state's GEAR UP TN grant.

"Most jobs require some sort of post-secondary education. This includes training and education at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, Associate programs at Community Colleges, 4 year Bachelor’s degrees and even advanced educational programs. Today's students have more options than ever. We don't want to wait until the senior year to share all these options with students,” stated Director of Schools Dr. Mark Winningham.

According to LA Counselor Vanessa Farris who wrote the grant, “The Gear Up Grant will allow us to serve students starting in 8th grade next fall and help ALL students develop college and career plans to ensure future success. We are very excited about being one of the 15 school systems across the state chosen for the Gear Up Grant."

As part of the project, Overton County Schools/Livingston Academy will form a local, community-based GEAR UP TN Collaborative to provide college access and success-focused services to students at all Overton County Schools with 8th grades: Allons Elementary, Hilham Elementary, Livingston Middle School, Rickman Elementary, and Wilson Elementary. Students in the Class of 2023, who are currently in the seventh grade, will receive services as a cohort through middle school, high school, and their first year of postsecondary education.

Seniors at Livingston Academy will also receive direct services that will help them

prepare for college and apply to postsecondary programs. Services will include one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, college visits, and financial aid counseling. GEAR UP TN will also provide students across the state of Tennessee with college and financial aid resources, including a college access and success website,

Each GEAR UP TN Collaborative includes formal partnerships with at least one middle school, one high school, a higher education institution, a local board of education and at least two community-based organizations. Partners will help implement grant activities and ensure that the momentum of college access work continues beyond the six-year grant.

OCS/Livingston Academy GEAR UP TN Collaborative will partner with Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Volunteer State Community College and Tennessee Tech University to educate students about college choices and admission procedures, how to access financial aid and scholarship and the opportunities available to them locally. The Chamber of Commerce will also partner with Gear Up to help students connect education and the world of work. Many local businesses already partner with LA by providing industry visit days and internships for students; Gear Up will work to expand these and partner with more local industry.

This is Tennessee's third GEAR UP grant; it is the first GEAR UP grant for Overton County. Tennessee's first GEAR UP TN project, which began in 2005, resulted in a 22.8 percent increase in college-going rates in the nine rural school districts. Communities served by Tennessee's second GEAR UP TN grant, which began in 2012, have shown impressive results, including over 9 percentage points of growth in college-going rates since 2012. Tennessee was one of ten states awarded a GEAR UP grant as part of the 2011 competition.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Farris, Livingston Academy School Counselor at or 931.823.5911.


GEAR UP TN is a locally driven project that works to prepare students for success in middle school, high school, and postsecondary education. Funded through a seven-year grant from the u.s. Department of Education and administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, GEAR UP TN works with community-based Collaboratives in 15 counties across the state to promote college readiness and success. Between 2017 and 2024, GEAR UP TN will provide a variety of services

including mentoring, tutoring, college visits, and financial aid counseling, to ensure more Tennessee students can enroll and succeed in postsecondary education.

Vanessa Farris, Ed.S