"Gear Up" Program Gets Millions to Help Kids Get to College. - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

"Gear Up" Program Gets Millions to Help Kids Get to College.

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RICHLAND, Wash. - WSU Tri-Cities is awarded $23 million dollars to help middle school students make it to college.

The early outreach program at WSU Tri-Cities just received the money from the U.S. Department of Education.

Organizers are calling it the "Gear Up" program and the goal is to help students in 18 different school districts around the area overcome barriers and work toward entering college.  The barriers they're most concerned about are the cultures or expectations kids grow up with that influence them to think higher education is inaccessible, or just not for them.

Geno Morales Ledesma who oversees the "Gear-Up" program at WSU Tri-Cities says overcoming those obstacles is half the battle.

"When we work with the students there's diverse problems.  We have the low income and first generation students.  And it's just awareness and knowing the information of what opportunities are available to them," said Morales Ledesma.

Students involved in the program will receive counseling services, possible summer school, and even tougher course work to prepare them for college classes.