Johnson County School District Receives Gear Up Grant to Promote College Access and Success

Mountain City, TN (April 18) – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission announced today that the Johnson County School District is the recipient of a $617,633 GEAR UP grant over the next six years.  The grant funds will provide services to students and families with the aim of increasing enrollment and success in postsecondary education.

The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, which aims to increase the number of low-income students in Tennessee who are accessing and succeeding in higher education.  Johnson County is one of 15 communities to receive funds.  The communities were selected through a competitive application process by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the administrator of the state’s GEAR UP TN grant.

“I am excited that we were selected to continue our work as a GEAR UP TN Collaborative.  Our college-going rate has increased dramatically since the beginning of our previous grant, and we look forward to continuing that progress over the next six years.” 

 As part of the project, the Johnson County School District will form a local, community-based GEAR UP TN Collaborative to provide college access and success-focused services to students at Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School.  Students in the Class of 2023, who are currently in seventh grade, will receive services as a cohort through middle school, high school, and their first year of postsecondary education.

Seniors at participating high schools will also receive direct services that will help them prepare for college and apply to postsecondary programs.  Services will include one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, college visits, and financial aid counseling.  GEAR UP TN will also provide students across the state of Tennessee with college and financial aid resources, including a college access and success website,

Each GEAR UP TN Collaborative includes formal partnerships with at least one middle school, one high school, a higher education institution, a local board of education and at least two community-based organizations.  Partners will help implement grant activities and ensure that the momentum of college access work continues beyond the six-year grant.  The Johnson County School District’s GEAR UP TN Collaborative will partner with Northeast State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton, the Niswonger Foundation, the Johnson County Arts Council, Danny Herman Trucking, and the Johnson County/Mountain City Community Center.

This is Tennessee’s third GEAR UP grant.  Tennessee’s first GEAR UP TN project, which began in 2005, resulted in a 22.8 percent increase in college-going rates in the nine rural school districts.  Communities served by Tennessee’s second GEAR UP TN grant, which began in 2012, have shown impressive results, including over 9 percentage points of growth in college-going rates since 2012.  Tennessee was one of ten states awarded a GEAR UP grant as part of the 2017 competition.

For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen Long, Secondary Supervisor/GEAR UP Collaborative Project Director, Johnson County Schools, at (423) 727-2640,


GEAR UP TN is a locally driven project that works to prepare students for success in middle school, high school, and postsecondary education.  Funded through a seven-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, GEAR UP TN works with community-based Collaboratives in 15 counties across the state to promote college readiness and success.  Between 2017 and 2024, GEAR UP TN will provide a variety of services including mentoring, tutoring, college visits, and financial aid counseling, to ensure more Tennessee students can enroll and succeed in postsecondary education.

Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Johnson County Schools

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