IDEA Public Schools Awarded $11.5 Million Dollars to Increase College Readiness

WESLACO, TEXAS, April 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- IDEA Public Schools, a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools serving nearly 10,000 students in the Rio Grande Valley and Central Texas, has been awarded the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant to fund its Connect2College Program.

Over the next seven years IDEA will receive nearly $11.5 M to provide a comprehensive college prep experience, Connect2College, that will result in a clear model of how schools should support students along the K-12 path to college. IDEA Public Schools is the first charter program to receive this award and will work in partnership with the University of Texas at Brownsville and Sylvan Learning Center.

IDEA applied for the GEAR UP grant in July of last year in an effort to fund a program to increase students' academic success in core subjects, ACT preparation and AVID courses.  In collaboration with the partners mentioned, IDEA hopes to increase student and family participation in college-readiness activities and grow their knowledge of financial aid options.

"We are very excited to hear this news," said Tom Torkelson, Co-Founder and CEO of IDEA Public Schools. "This grant will help support several of IDEA's key initiatives—college counseling, ACT prep, college field lessons and others.  It takes strategic partnerships to yield the best results and we are looking forward to those that come out of our Connect2College Program."

GEAR UP is a discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools.

IDEA will receive its first payment in July of 2012 and begin the Connect2College program and collaboration then.  To learn more about the GEAR UP Partnership Grant, visit  To learn more about IDEA Public Schools contact Vanessa Segovia Barry at 512-657-5461 or or visit

About IDEA Public Schools

IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools serving over 9,500 students in the Rio Grande Valley and Central Texas. IDEA is committed to "College For All Children" and has sent 100% of its graduates to four-year colleges and universities. For the second year in a row, IDEA Public Schools has been rated an "Exemplary" district by the Texas Education Agency.


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