Since 2003, Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (PGKP) has successfully reversed downward educational trends and begun to achieve its goal of increasing high school graduation rates, college attendance, and an overall atmosphere of high expectations and achievement in Kenai Peninsula schools.

✔  Higher Scores.  In the first 5 years of PGKP partnership, students experienced unprecedented advances in core academic competencies with a 25% increase in the number of students gaining mathematics proficiency and 13% increase in the number of students gaining language arts proficiency, bringing the schools’ average above the Alaska state average.  Since then schools have maintained these levels.

✔  Greater College Awareness.  Ongoing college-related events, such as Family Activity Nights, Summer Institutes, College-Career Fairs, and College-Career Field Trips, have helped increase students’ and parents’ familiarity with college.  Together with rising achievement scores, these events have steadily built a college-going culture, where student confidence and aspirations grow and drop-out rates shrink.  Over the last two years, student surveys reveal a 139% increase in awareness of college entrance requirements and an 83% increase in financial aid knowledge.  Parent survey results show growth in the awareness of college entrance requirements for parents by 133% and increased financial aid knowledge by 329%.

✔  Increased College Attendance.  Finally, when Project GRAD Kenai scholars do leave high school, armed with a GRAD scholarship, they leave with improved access to post-secondary training and better preparation for successful completion.  Since 2013, PGKP has awarded $116,000 in scholarships for vocational and academic college study both in Alaska and in the Lower 48.  Nearly 62% of these scholarship recipients are the first in their family to attend college.

✔  National Recognition. Based on these successes, PGKP was one of just a few programs nationwide to win a prestigious “GEAR UP” six-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2011.  The $128,000 grant, which stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” provides matching federal grants and will be used to support a cohort of approximately 160 students from 2nd through 8th grades at a sustained rate of $800 per student.   (See full story here. )