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UNF’s school counseling SOAR program receives $1.6M GEAR UP grant

Four students sitting at a table coordinating on a projectThe University of North Florida’s school counseling “SOAR” program has been awarded a $1.6 million U.S. Department of Education Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Partnership grant with Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) to help students from low-income backgrounds better prepare for postsecondary education.

The grant will provide increased opportunities for UNF students to co-lead as college career navigators alongside College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) faculty and staff in mentoring DCPS youth from low-income backgrounds as they navigate from middle school to postsecondary success.

The UNF SOAR and DCPS partnership will serve a cohort of 750 middle school students across 10 local schools through early intervention programs, including early career exploration, career fairs, individual and small group mentoring, a career representative speaker series and youth leadership development for participating DCPS and UNF students.

This award is expected to continue yielding demonstrable gains on outcomes such as passing challenging pre-algebra classes, improving average daily attendance and parental engagement, and setting aspirations for post-secondary options.

This 2021-27 GEAR UP grant is the sixth award for the SOAR program since 1999 and builds upon the rich legacy of collaboration between UNF COEHS and DCPS to increase college access for local students while nurturing the leadership talent of future educators.

To learn more about the SOAR program, email Dr. Sophie Filibert, School Counseling associate professor, at