Delta Gear Up Partnership

Dr. Ivye Allen
President
The Foundation for
the Mid South
Jim McHale
President and CEO
Woodward Hines
Education Foundation

Delta State University (DSU) has been awarded a seven-year, $15 million GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) partnership grant that will provide college access and career planning programming to eight school districts in the Mississippi Delta. The seven-year initiative will serve 2,700 Mississippi Delta students.

GEAR UP Partnership grants are designed to increase college attendance and success and raise the expectations of low-income students. “When the Foundation first became aware of this grant, available through the Department of Education, we discussed the opportunity internally and then reached out to other foundations which we knew had an interest in working collaboratively in the Mississippi Delta,” said Woodward Hines Education Foundation President and CEO Jim McHale. 

“After speaking with Dr. Ivye Allen from the Foundation for the Mid-South, Antoinette Malveaux from Casey Family Programs, and others, we all agreed that this was a great place to come together.””This initiative will make a significant impact on the Mississippi Delta,” said DSU President Dr. William N. LaForge. “This grant will expand collaboration among K-12, community organizations, and higher education institutions. It will also provide support to schools through professional development opportunities and student services, significantly increasing the number of Delta students prepared to enter and succeed in college.” The MS Delta GEAR UP Partnership Grant (Delta GU) is a collaborative effort of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), The Foundation for the Mid South, Casey Family Programs, local school districts, and DSU.

“We are excited to partner with Delta State University and other partners on this GEAR UP opportunity,” said Foundation for the Mid South President Dr. Ivye Allen. “It is our goal to ensure that students throughout Mississippi, especially those from Delta communities, have education outcomes that place them in competitive positions throughout the state as well as the nation. We know that the children in this region can be anything they want to be, and our goal is to be one of the contributors to making that happen.”

The Foundation for the Mid South will implement and provide oversight for all programming related to the MS Delta GU Partnership grant. They will coordinate the work of the grant in the following eight school districts:

Achievement SchoolDistrict (formerly Yazoo City and Humphreys County)
Leland (Leland high school)
Western Line (O’Bannon and Riverside high schools)
North Bolivar (Northside High)
Sunflower (Thomas Edwards and Gentry high schools)
Hollandale (Simmons high school)
Greenwood-Leflore (Greenwood, Leflore County, and Amanda Elzy high schools)
Greenville (Greenville high school

Starting with Grades 6 and 7, the grant progresses with these two cohorts for seven years. In year seven, the grant supports high school seniors and first-year college students. Programming will strengthen the pipeline between high school and postsecondary education, increase college completion rates, and strengthen postsecondary alignment with workforce needs. Services provided include college advising, mentoring, job shadowing, college visits, summer enrichment programming, better access to financial assistance, and connecting students with work skills and credentials relevant to the labor market.

“In Mississippi, talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” said Woodward Hines Education Foundation President and CEO Jim McHale. “We believe that this partnership grant will increase access to higher education for students in the Mississippi Delta and will ultimately help them reach their potential and achieve their dreams.”

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