September 23, 2016

Purdue, State of Indiana receive multimillion grant to help Hoosier students prepare for college success

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A multimillion dollar federal grant awarded to Purdue University and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) will help more Indiana students stay on track from middle school to postsecondary education. The statewide effort aims to strengthen academic preparation, college readiness and career guidance with a special focus on students in Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program.

“There’s no learning more important to the individual and collective future of Hoosiers than science and math, but currently there’s no other area in which we are coming up so short. It’s hard to think of another project that fits Purdue’s mission and the needs of our state like this one,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be led by Carla C. Johnson, associate dean for engagement and global partnerships in the College of Education, in collaboration with campus partners from the colleges of Agriculture and Science, Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and Student Success at Purdue.

The grant amount is anticipated to be $3.5 million annually with the allocation totaling as much as $24.5 million over seven years.

Indiana’s GEAR UP grant program closely aligns with the goals of the state’s 21st Century Scholars program, an early-promise scholarship which has helped more than 70,000 low-income students go to college since it was established in 1990. In 2011 with support from the Indiana General Assembly, CHE created the Scholar Success Program, a set of required activities designed to keep students on track for high school graduation and college completion. The requirements take effect beginning with high seniors graduating in spring 2017.

“We firmly believe that the Scholar Success Program provides a clear roadmap for all college-bound students,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers. “Our GEAR Up partnership with Purdue will help us ensure that more Hoosier students, both Scholars and non-Scholars alike, reap the benefits from completing this essential preparation.”

Indiana’s GEAR UP project is a seven-year partnership with CHE and other key stakeholders, including the Indiana governor’s office, Indiana Department of Education, Conexus, and several Indiana school corporations, that promises to have a statewide reach and significant long-term implications.

“This project will potentially impact thousands of Indiana children,” said College of Education Dean Maryann Santos. “We are committed to helping deliver the best education for all students – especially in the area of P-12 STEM education. GEAR UP is a way for us to create long-term partnerships with teachers and communities that will make a noticeable difference in the state of Indiana.”

The program is designed to include academic facets and college knowledge – both identified by research as key components of college readiness programs. In addition, the funding will support research on the impact of the interventions on student success. The College of Education will research students from seventh grade through high school to better understand STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, literacy, persistence and entry into postsecondary study and careers.

“Through this project, we will be able to provide much-needed support for students beginning in middle school that will enable them to experience success and have the opportunity to choose their future academic path,” Johnson said. “This grant will not only support students, but will also provide on-the-ground professional development within Indiana partner schools to grow teacher effectiveness and after-school programs that will engage parents and the community.”

Other College of Education faculty and staff involved in the grant are Signe Kastberg, associate professor of mathematics education, and Kerry Hoffman, director of the Center for Literacy Education and Research (CLEAR).

The preliminary partnering schools and school corporations are the Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School, Community Schools of Frankfort, Crawford County Community Schools, Gary School Corporation, Greater Clark County Schools, Indianapolis Public Schools, Kokomo School Corporation, Lafayette School Corporation, Maconaquah School Corporation, MSD of Warren Township and Muncie Community Schools. The college will partner with Indiana’s nine educational service centers to make resources available to other schools across the state.

These partnerships will expand the depth and breadth of services, supports and experiences for Indiana K-12 students to ensure they graduate high school and are highly prepared to attend postsecondary education. Researchers in the College of Education will administer the program and conduct research on the impact of the interventions on student success. 

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, 

Sources: Maryann Santos, 765-494-2336,

Carla C. Johnson, 765-494-0780, 

Stephanie Wilson, 260-705-8007,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-22 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at