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Councilor Marcus Lundy, Jr. encourages students to capitalize on early scholarship potential through “GEAR UP”

It’s the dawn of completing another school year for Birmingham City Schools. High school seniors are packing their final belongings and surging into their futures at higher learning institutions, many with scholarships in tow.

Two Birmingham City school students representing Woodlawn High School, who were recently recognized by Mayor William Bell during the Birmingham City Council meeting, tapped into their full potential and collectively packed up over $2 million in scholarships from various sources, including the nationally competitive scholarships from Gates Millennium, the foundation created and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates and administered by the United Negro College Fund.

Jarrell Jordan and Trey Hawkins are two of the 1,000 students nationwide to win the Gates scholarships that will help pay for students’ undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and doctoral degrees.

Now even more students can look forward to tapping into scholarship resources as early as sixth and seventh grade through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a competitive grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to the Birmingham City School System for $19.6 million in September 2014.

Slated to kick off activities this month, the awards are given to high-risk communities to develop comprehensive, research-driven programs to prepare low-income, minority and first generation students for higher education.

GEAR UP will guide and prepare students through academic enrichment, tutoring and professional development in all Birmingham City schools. Nearly 3,500 students are expected to benefit from the scholarship program pushing a 15 percent increase in graduation rates and college admission.

Councilor Marcus Lundy, Jr. said that these type of scholarship grants are vital in helping students to excel in every aspect of their education.

“Our students need consistent goals and opportunities to work toward,” said Councilor Lundy. “GEAR UP is one of the many valuable resources that can keep students on track to receive numerous scholarships; we couldn’t be prouder of these gentlemen for being great role models to other students at such a young age. Scholarships are attainable and it’s our duty to lead students to the many rewards.”

If you want to learn more about how you can take part in the Gear Up program, please take a look at this video produced by the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office:

This article is a contribution from Chiara Morrow ( in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.