FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Christine Frank at (405) 325-4844 or Kathleen Kennedy at (405) 587-0224 NORMAN – To increase high school graduation rates and improve college readiness, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Public Schools have been awarded a seven-year, $26 million grant from the U. S. Department of Education, OU President David Boren announced today, noting that 21 new jobs will be created as part of the project. “The awarding of this grant is great news for the entire state,” Boren said. “It will give the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Public School District a chance to create a model for ways for OU to help public education across our state.” The GEAR UP for PROMISE (Promotion of Readiness through Opportunities that Motivate and Increase Student Expectations) project will directly benefit more than 4,500 sixth- and seventh-grade students in 10 low-income urban schools within the Oklahoma City Public School district, including Centennial, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, John Marshall, Northeast, Rogers, Roosevelt, Taft and Webster middle schools. Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer, said, “This collaboration provides an opportunity for the largest school district in the State of Oklahoma and the flagship university to work together to dramatically increase high school graduation and college readiness on behalf of children over the next seven years.” Gregg Garn, director of the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal and interim dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU, said, “It is really exciting to think about getting more kids prepared for and into higher education settings. The opportunity to affiliate with Oklahoma City Public Schools in this process further strengthens the relationship between the OU and Oklahoma City Public Schools.” The project seeks to better prepare urban students for college by increasing the ability for students to meet established performance levels in math, science, literacy and technology. The program also hopes to help students and their families understand education options for college, including preparation and financing. “GEAR UP presents a wonderful opportunity for students in Oklahoma City Public Schools to prepare for college and their chosen career beyond. GEAR UP’s focus on minority and first-generation college students is a wonderful match for Oklahoma City Public Schools students, and we look forward to the partnership with the University of Oklahoma,” said Angela Monson, chairman of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education.