Stockton University will expand college accessibility for economically disadvantaged students through its College Bound program thanks to a renewed federal grant.

The university was one of several state colleges to receive federal funds from the federal Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant. Stockton’s College Bound program targets Pleasantville and Atlantic City residents.

“Students in our program will be equipped and empowered with the skills necessary for acceptance into post-secondary education and to successfully complete their undergraduate career. We have great experiences in store for our students,” said Destiny Talley, director of College Bound at Stockton.

Funding for GEAR UP is through the New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE), which announced it would receive the $35 million federal grant earlier this month, distributed in $5 million increments over seven years.

“New Jersey students need early exposure to college, and NJ GEAR UP does this by helping prepare students for their postsecondary pathways beginning in middle and high school.

“The program has a successful record in New Jersey over the past 20 years, with over 75% of student graduates enroll in college,” said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. “We are thrilled that we can continue — and even expand — this critical on-ramp to college.”

Other cities and partner colleges benefitting from the federal grant this year are Camden (Rowan University); Jersey City (New Jersey City University); Newark (New Jersey Institute of Technology); Paterson (Passaic County Community College) and Penns Grove/Carneys Point (Salem Community College). The OSHE said it would seek to expand program services to additional cities in the out years of the grant cycle.

Stockton’s expanded College Bound program will continue to serve students in grades 7-12 from the following schools: Sovereign Avenue, New York Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Uptown School Complex, and Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, and Pleasantville High School and Middle School of Pleasantville.

Participants will attend Saturday Academy at Stockton University Atlantic City beginning Oct. 25.

They will receive academic, career and financial counseling, mentoring, college and career exploration, and attend college tours and educational field trips.

Students also participate in a summer enrichment program and selected students will participate in a residential summer program.

Students interested in participating can obtain an application from their school guidance office at each target school, by contacting or calling 609-761-1206.

Graduates of the program who attend Stockton receive priority for Stockton’s Atlantic City Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, which provides academic and financial support to eligible college students.

Contact: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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