NM Delegation Hails Nearly $6 Million to Increase High School Student Access to and Success in Higher Education

Press Release

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) applauded nearly $6 million in grant funding to the New Mexico Higher Education Department and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-R) to fund partnerships between universities and middle and high schools to increase the college readiness and success for low-income students. The funding is the first installment of the U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP program, which projects funding for annual grants over a seven-year period.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department will use the grant funding to serve over 9,000 7th-12th graders across 10 school districts, as well as 500 first-year college students across the state each year of funding. ENMU-R will partner with four public school districts in southeastern New Mexico to serve 1,876 students, beginning with 6th and 7th graders.

"All New Mexico students should have access to the opportunity of a high-quality education that encourages their potential," said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "The GEAR UP funding will link middle school and high school students across New Mexico with a network of organizations and universities to support their success and increase their enrollment in higher education. This pathway to success is more important than ever, as students are grappling with an unprecedented disruption to their learning. I will continue to fight for robust education funding in Washington so that we can equip every New Mexico student with the tools they need to pursue a higher education or vocational training and begin a fulfilling career."

"I am proud to support this funding for the GEAR UP program that will allow more students in New Mexico to prepare for college and provide resources that lay the foundation for academic success," said Heinrich. "I will continue fighting for programs, like GEAR UP, that create pathways to higher-learning opportunities and open doors for New Mexico's future leaders."

"Every student deserves a fair shot at academic success. These GEAR UP investments will help level the playing field by preparing lower-income students for college and careers, especially as COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for New Mexico's students," said Luján. "I recently helped pass the updated Heroes Act to better support our struggling students, schools, and educators, and I will continue fighting to bring more educational investments like these to New Mexico."

"Higher education can be the key to unlocking doors to opportunity and ending cycles of poverty, but there are countless barriers and challenges that students face to attend a university and stay in school. The education I received at UNM helped me realize more than I ever knew was possible, but I didn't go to college until I was 28 years old because I honestly didn't know that college or even technical training was an option right out of high school. That's why the GEAR UP Program is so important. This federal funding from the Department of Education will ensure students have that connection in middle and high schools throughout New Mexico so they can achieve success beyond their college years," said Haaland.

"As we continue to address immediate challenges from COVID-19 and work towards recovery, we cannot let our students fall behind. In southeastern New Mexico, families are having to navigate changes to their day-to-day lives during this difficult time. I'm pleased to announce GEAR UP funding will support students in southeastern New Mexico, and across the state, connecting them to opportunities in higher education," said Torres Small.

A full breakdown of the $5,980,800 in funding is below:

- New Mexico Higher Education Department-The New Mexico Higher Education Department will use the $4,480,000 in grant funding to serve roughly 9,000 7th-12th grade students and 500 first-year college students around the state annually from 2020 to 2027. The program will implement AVID equity education tools, targeted math tutoring and intervention classes, support for dual enrollment, comprehensive mentoring, college visits, work-based learning experiences in STEM fields, and professional development for teachers. GEAR UP NM can enhance students' college and career readiness, increase rates of high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment, and raise student and family awareness of higher education financing, helping create a stronger college-access foundation in New Mexico.

- ENMU-R- ENMU-R will use $1,500,800 in funding for its "Dream.Achieve.Succeed." program, a seven-year GU project to serve a total of 1,876 students in two cohorts, beginning with 6th and 7th graders enrolled in four public school districts serving the county's most disadvantaged students: Roswell Independent Schools, Hagerman Municipal Schools, Dexter Consolidated Schools, and Lake Arthur Municipal Schools, a total of seven middle schools and five high schools. The proposed project is supported by a network of 35 education partners and organizations within the business, technology and nonprofit communities.

About the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP):

This discretionary grant program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.