An innovative partnership with a goal of improving students' college readiness, awareness and fit is coming to Shawnee Middle School.

The University of Oklahoma's K20 Center will partner with SMS as part of the center's GEAR UP for the FUTURE (Forging Undergraduates Through University Readiness Experiences) grant project. This project aims to help students prepare to excel academically, increase their graduation rates and gain admission into institutions of postsecondary education.

"We are so excited about this partnership and being awarded this grant opportunity with OU's K20 Center for our middle school," said Dr. April Grace, superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools.

"This project will give our students even more opportunities to ensure they are ready for extended learning beyond high school, whether that is a career certification route or college degree program. This will be a fantastic addition to the ICAP experience, and we see the two working in tandem." 

Shawnee Public Schools is an ICAP (Individual Career Academic Plan) Pilot District. ICAP, a term used both for the process and for the plan created, guides students to explore and prepare for their own academic and career opportunities.

SMS is one of 11 schools in seven Oklahoma districts that will be a part of the seven-year FUTURE project with the K20 Center. The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Through this project, K20 will work with SMS to help them form a learning team consisting of administrators, counselors, teachers, students, parents and other community members. This team will work with FUTURE project leaders to create and implement the school's action plans to give students and their families the information and skills they need to make sure the students are ready for postsecondary education. Opportunities for school and career mentoring, tutoring and visiting colleges are all part of this project.

The K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal is a statewide education research and development center that promotes innovative learning through school-university-community collaboration. The K20 Center has already worked with many schools across the state in past GEAR UP efforts to ensure these schools have a college-going culture.