Congratulations To Educational Trust Award Recipients

Summer 2005 | | June 1, 2005 at 1:43 pm

Each year, hundreds of middle school students are proud recipients of an Educational Trust Award from California GEAR UP. Since 1999, 3,750 students in grades 6-9 at GEAR UP schools have received these $2,000 awards. A GEAR UP Educational Trust Award is a ScholarShare account that is held in trust for the student by the California Student Aid Commission. The account continues to earn interest until withdrawn for college expenses and does not impact a student’s financial aid package. Students and their families are notified periodically by the Commission as to the status of their account.

The Educational Trust Awards program is a tangible demonstration of the GEAR UP commitment to provide all students and their families information and resources about preparing for college. The selection and awards process is determined by a School’s Leadership Team and can involve the whole school community as described in this story.

THE SELECTION PROCESS AT R. J. FRANK INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL

R. J. Frank Intermediate School, located in Oxnard, enrolls about 1300 students in grades 7 and 8. It is a Title I school with 78 percent of the students on Free and Reduced Price Lunch and 43 percent are English Language Learners. This GEAR UP middle school engaged the whole school community in the selection of recipients of Educational Trust Awards.

The School Leadership Team, which includes the principal, a parent, a Language Arts teacher, a Social Studies teachers, and a Mathematics teacher, prepared a flyer for the entire school announcing $2,000 College Scholarships. The flyer, with eye-catching artwork, stated:

  • who could apply (Any current R. J. Frank student with 3.0 GPA or higher and a good attendance record)
  • how to apply (Complete the application and include a 1-2 page typed essay responding to the essay question: Why do you want to go to college?)
  • when and where to turn in the application (Final date and main office)
  • who to see for questions (Leadership Team with the name of each)

With 12 scholarships to award, the team decided to have eight for 8th graders and four for 7th graders. Also, half of the scholarships would be reserved for students that are the first generation in their family to go to college.

The student response was overwhelming—almost 100 students completed the application, including the typed essay. To narrow down the number of candidates to interview, the Leadership Team requested each teacher to recommend one student from the list of applicants by circling or highlighting the name. Each teacher could select one best candidate, the student the teacher viewed as most deserving of the scholarship.

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Interviews were held on the campus during the day and 12 winning students were selected. Along with the winners, the other 86 students that were motivated to apply were treated to a pizza party at the school. Community leaders and the local newspaper were also invited. The teachers were winners too, as they heard from parents thanking them for providing this opportunity for their child.

The words of the students, taken from the Trust Award applications, say it best:

  • “I know who I am and what I want and I am determined to reach my goals.”
  • “By going to college, I would accomplish something no one in my family ever thought possible.”
  • “I come from a non-wealthy family that believes if you work hard and don’t give up, your heart’s desire will come true.”

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