schools.jpgSchool professionals, teachers, policy makers and officials from the U.S. Department of Education are gearing up to learn effective strategies designed to increase college attendance at a conference this morning in San Francisco.

The conference focuses on a national grant program known as “GEAR UP” or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. Its goal is to boost the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The initiative provides grants to states and partnerships over a six-year period, usually starting in middle school, which fund projects that better prepare students academically and financially for college, officials said.

More than $323 million have been appropriated for GEAR UP by the Department of Education, officials said. Some of the money supports college scholarships for low-income students.

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships sponsors the annual conference, which runs through Wednesday. Today’s seminar begins at 9 a.m. at the Hilton Union Square, located at 333 O’Farrell St. in San Francisco.

Michael Robbins, the Department of Education’s senior advisor for nonprofit partnerships, will discuss the importance of community-based organizations at 10:45 a.m. today.

Rachel Purdy, Bay City News

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