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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 19, 2000
                              May 19, 2000                               

Today, President Clinton will visit Sulzberger Middle School to highlight GEAR UP, a Clinton-Gore initiative that provides mentoring, tutoring and financial support to keep at-risk students on the track to college. He will visit the first class of Philadelphia GEAR UP students and present a GEAR UP student with a 21st Century Scholar Certificate. In addition, he will announce $185 million in 21st Century Community Learning Center grants to fund after-school programs in 900 schools. He will also call upon Congress to fully fund his education initiatives. This year, Republicans are threatening to cut the President's important education initiatives, including GEAR UP and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

HELPING DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS ENTER COLLEGE THROUGH GEAR UP. GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, was first proposed by President Clinton in his 1998 State of the Union address and enacted with broad bipartisan support in October 1998. It is an initiative designed to give hope, raise expectations, and create college opportunities for disadvantaged children. It supports partnerships of schools, colleges and universities, and community organizations to strengthen academics and tutoring, raise expectations and provide college visits and counseling. This year it is providing college scholarships to nearly 450,000 middle school students this year. It also funds state efforts to promote college awareness and provide scholarships for needy students. Over 1,000 organizations are GEAR UP partners, including colleges and universities, libraries, arts organizations, and chambers of commerce. Next academic year, GEAR UP will serve over 750,000 students, and President Clinton requested $325 million in FY 2001 to serve 1.4 million children. GEAR UP was inspired by businessman Eugene Lang's I Have a Dream Foundation and is also modeled on Project GRAD.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL PRESENT GEAR UP CERTIFICATES TO PHILADELPHIA SEVENTH-GRADERS. The 21st Century Certificates raise college aspirations and provide early notice of the substantial federal assistance available for college costs, helping families understand that college is within reach. Representative Chaka Fattah was the first to see the potential of 21st Century Scholar Certificates to inspire at-risk students and the leading congressional advocate for the enactment of GEAR UP. -- Low-income and minority students are at high risk of failing to enter college: Only half of low-income high school graduates immediately enroll in college or trade school, as do four-fifths of high-income graduates. -- Low-income, African-American, and Hispanic students who read one piece of information on financial aid are 15 to 23 percentage points more likely to take college entrance examinations and apply for college admission than their peers who didn't read any information. (National Center for Education Statistics, Access to Postsecondary Education for 1992 High School Graduates, 1997.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ALSO ANNOUNCE $185 MILLION IN AFTER-SCHOOL GRANTS. Today, President Clinton will also announce $185 million in new grants for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These grants will support after-school and summer school programs in 48 states. Funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative provides safe, high-quality after-school and summer school programs for more than 850,000 students in rural and urban communities nationwide. Summer school and after-school programs help give students extra support and assistance to master challenging academic standards and allow school districts to raise standards the right way -- by ensuring that all students can meet them.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL CALL ON CONGRESS TO INVEST IN EDUCATION, INCLUDING GEAR UP AND 21ST CENTURY COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS. In order to pay for risky and fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, the Congressional Republican budget proposes to cut investments in domestic priorities $29 billion below the President's level, an average cut of 9 percent. For education this results in insufficient funding for urgent school repair, smaller class sizes, to strengthen accountability and turn around low-performing schools, or for other important school reform efforts. For example: -- President Clinton requested $325 million for GEAR UP next year to help build pathways to college for 1.4 million students. The Senate plan provides only $225 million and the House only $200 million for the initiative, denying between 400,000 and 650,000 disadvantaged students this opportunity. -- President Clinton asked Congress to more than double funding for 21st Century Learning Centers, to $1 billion, to triple the number of students served to 2.5 million. The need for after-school programs remain great, and this year more than 1,000 high-quality grant applications could not be funded due to a lack of resources.