Hurd on the Hill: Fostering College- and Career-Ready Students

Gearing our students up for success

By U.S. Representative Will Hurd – TX23

As your Representative, one of my top priorities is making sure Congress enacts policies that create economic opportunity and give every family a chance at the American dream. Education is an essential part of these efforts. Without a well-educated workforce the next generation will be unable to take full advantage of the opportunities available in the 21st century economy. Ensuring access to educational opportunities for Texans of all backgrounds strengthens our economy, drives innovation across all industries and allows folks to overcome socioeconomic challenges and create a better life for themselves and their families.

I understand the unique challenges South and West Texas students often face which is why I work hard with local officials to identify ways we can improve the education of our kids. Educational opportunities are not limited just to what kids learn in the classroom. Services such as counseling, mentorship, tutoring and financial assistance are equally vital to ensuring students’ success.

That’s where Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) comes in. This competitive federal grant program provides funding for local organizations that offer students counseling, tutoring, mentoring and scholarships. By expanding access to these programs, GEAR UP helps bridge the educational attainment gap and prepare low-income students for college and their careers, starting as young as 6th or 7th grade and supporting them through their first year of college.

Funding from GEAR UP serves thousands of students throughout the 23rd District of Texas each and every day. More than 1,100 students in Alpine, Del Rio, Fort Davis, Fort Stockton, Marathon, Marfa, Presidio, and Terlingua are GEAR UP students. In El Paso, students at 10 Ysleta Independent School District middle schools benefit from the program. Additionally, San Antonio ISD has received funding in the past and still serves many GEAR UP students. These counseling, tutoring and mentorship services supported by more than $3 million in GEAR UP funding each year will help prepare these South and West Texas students for success.

That’s why I’m proud that one of the first bills I’ve introduced in the 116th Congress is a bipartisan bill in the House to reauthorize GEAR UP, so South and West Texas students are prepared for success in high school, college and their careers. I am also grateful to my friend, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), for introducing this important bill in the Senate. Additionally, I hope to use my new role as a member of the Appropriations Committee to secure robust funding for GEAR UP so that our school districts across TX-23 can compete for future grants.

I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that every student in Texas has an equal chance for success for generations to come. For more information on my work for you in Congress, please sign up for my email list at hurd.house.gov and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube at @HurdontheHill.

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