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Voorhees College receives $30 million GEAR UP grant

Voorhees College has received a $30 million grant from the United States Department of Education for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The seven-year grant, with $4,288,800 awarded in the first year, will be used to increase the number of low-income students in South Carolina who are prepared to enter and succeed in higher education and careers.

“We see a clear advantage in working with student early enough to instill a passion for learning and it is an ideal opportunity to support middle and high schools focused on student success,” said Ronnie Hopkins, president of Voorhees College. “The GEAR UP grant will help Voorhees prepare students for that next level of excellence.” 

Under the GEAR UP grant, which began Oct. 1, Voorhees will work with a cohort of middle school students and support their academic progress through high school. Funding also will be used to provide college scholarships to low-income students. 

“We, at Voorhees, have an exciting opportunity to prepare students in our area for college and for careers,” said Damara Hightower Mitchell, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Improving student achievement benefits everyone; the students, their families and the communities in which they live.” 

Through GEAR UP, Voorhees will link targeted schools with local and regional technical colleges, rural community businesses, organizations and agencies to diversify learning options for students. The goal is to improve academic achievement in undeserved schools, improve graduation rates and increase postsecondary education and career attainment. Specifically, Voorhees will serve a cohort of up to 5,361 students attending middle schools in South Carolina.   

About Voorhees University

Voorhees University, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, is a private, coeducational institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Its mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Voorhees as a #1 best value, #3 in social mobility and #33 among regional colleges in the south in 2022-2023; and #26 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationally. Additional information about Voorhees University can be found at


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