Bronx Institute Awarded $12.6 million for GEAR UP and $100,000 for ENLACE Programs

September 14, 2015 11:42 am Bronx Institute, In the News, Uncategorized

Dr. Hermino Martinez, Executive Director of the Bronx Institute.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $12.6 million, seven-year grant, to the Bronx Institute at Lehman College, for GEAR UP, (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) a program designed to help low-income and minority students dramatically improve their high school graduation and college acceptance rates. In addition, the institute has also received a new $100,00 two-year grant from the Edwin Gould Foundation. Those  funds will be used to support the institute’s ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) program that has already helped hundreds of Latino students prepare for college and careers in mathematics and science.

This is the fifth GEAR UP grant that the Bronx Institute has received since the federal program’s inception in 1999. “This grant puts us in an elite category,” said Bruce Irushalmi, the Bronx Institute’s associate director. “Only a handful of colleges and universities have been recognized with five distinct grants.”

Irushalmi added that in 2015, Lehman was the only college “east of the Mississippi” to receive a federal grant in a highly competitive process. He says that 107 freshman (About 14 % of the entering class) that enrolled at Lehman this semester, had been part of the GEAR-UP program in high school and middle school.

“We at the Bronx Institute are honored to have received this new seven year $12.6 million GEAR UP grant from the United States Department of Education,” says Professor Hermino Martinez,  the executive director of the Bronx Institute at and professor of middle and high school education. “We are proud of the role we have played in this nationwide federal initiative and look forward to building upon our past success with our partner schools in The Bronx GEAR UP Network.”

The Bronx Institute partners with about 55 schools in the Bronx for the GEAR UP program and is heavily focused on after-school enrichment classes, including SAT and PSAT prep and preparation for specialized high school exams to help in make the road to college a smooth one.

The ENLACE program serves 7th to 12th grade students and emphasizes the importance of STEM education, which has traditionally underrepresented Latinos in the fields of science, engineering technology and mathematics. “Thanks to the generous support of the Edwin Gould Foundation, we are able to continue our ongoing mission to support Latino students here in the Bronx,” says Martinez. “We are especially grateful for their leadership and support as we look to the future and continue to serve our community.”

Since its inception, 100 percent of ENLACE’s alumni have graduated high school and 99 percent have enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. These students have achieved success in the SUNY and CUNY programs and have graduated from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University.

GEAR UP kids have also achieved strong academic success. “GEAR UP kids from the Bronx Institute have succeeded in high school and gone on to college at a significantly higher percentage than non-participating students in the rest of the city,” says Irushalmi. “Our work with Bronx schools is consistent with President Fernandez’s vision of how the college should work within the community.

According to Irushalmi, the GEAR UP program also includes visits to metropolitan area colleges and universities and a “Meet the author” program where students interact with mostly Bronx-based writers and poets at Lehman’s Leonard Lief Library and other borough libraries. GEAR UP works extensively with students and their parents to prepare them for all aspects of college financial aid and how to apply for FAFSA (Free Application Federal Student Aid).

The current seven-year grant will also allow the Bronx Institute to try something new, such as working with the same cohort of students starting in the 6th grade until high school graduation and following-up on their progress as they enter their freshman year of college. Irushalmi estimates that they will be working with six to 12 Bronx schools on this long-term plan.

Professor Martinez thanks Saeedah Hickman, the director of the office of research and sponsored programs for the “invaluable support she provided during the submission process.” He also credits Dean Harriet Fayne of the Lehman College School of Education, “for the overall support she provides to The Bronx Institute.”

“A new $12.6 million seven-year grant known as  “Bronx GEAR UP Network”  will support academic enrichment programs, STEM learning, and college preparation activities at eight middle schools in the Bronx,” says  Fayne. “It will go a long way towards furthering GEAR UP’s mission of preparing students for graduation and finding a good college fit for enrollment.