In 2017, IPSI was awarded the first of two GEAR UP Partnership grants from the U.S. Department of Education: To College and Beyond GEAR UP (TCB). This grant allowed UT Austin to engage directly with eight high-need, underserved school districts identified as having a large percentage of first-generation and low-income students. These districts, located in economically depressed pockets within the flourishing Austin and San Antonio metro areas, had traditionally gone ignored or unnoticed by previous grantees, making UT Austin GEAR UP a critical intervention opportunity. TCB grant activities and services include, but are not limited to:
- Strengthening the capacity of schools to deliver high-quality instruction through job-embedded professional development;
- Enrolling students in rigorous curriculum such as AP and dual-enrollment college courses;
- Providing students and parents with enriching supportive services;
- Educating students and families about rigorous courses, high school graduation, college search, planning and application requirements, enrollment processes, and financial aid, and;
- Implementing a rigorous evaluation to include a quasi-experimental design for continuous improvement.