K20 Gear Up For Life Partnerships

K20 Center Awarded GEAR UP for LIFE Grant, Empowering Over 8,000 Oklahoma
Norman, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma's K20 Center is proud to unveil its
groundbreaking initiative, “GEAR UP for LIFE,” aimed at reshaping educational opportunities for
students across 27 partner schools in Oklahoma. This initiative, forged in collaboration with
under-resourced schools, is designed to empower students and their families for successful
college pursuits and workforce training.
This visionary initiative marks a historic milestone for the University of Oklahoma's K20 Center,
securing $86 million for its cohort of 8,258 sixth and seventh grade students. “GEAR UP for
LIFE is the largest grant in the nearly 30-year history of OU’s K20 Center,” said Dr. Gregg Garn,
vice president for online learning and executive director of the K20 Center. “Students benefiting
from the grant will be better prepared to help grow the workforce necessary to ensure
Oklahoma’s continued economic prosperity.”
The program is designed to support students comprehensively, partnering with schools,
teachers, and community leaders to enrich education for cohort students. With the seven-year
GEAR UP for LIFE grant, the K20 Center will support students through the end of high school
and equip them with the skills and support network they need to successfully attend—and
graduate from—college or other postsecondary education institutions.
“LIFE will support cohort schools and students by increasing students’ behavioral, cognitive, and
emotional engagement in learning; increasing academic preparedness for college; aiding
students’ families in understanding postsecondary education options, preparation, and financial
aid; and increasing high school graduation and college enrollment,” said Dr. Leslie Williams,
K20 Center Director.
At the helm of this transformative journey stands Laura Buxton, M.Ed., the recently hired Project
Director for GEAR UP for LIFE. With a rich background in fostering student success and a

profound dedication to educational empowerment, Laura's leadership will drive this initiative
forward, steering students toward diverse opportunities in higher education. “I have witnessed
firsthand how the K20 Center’s GEAR UP services have transformed the lives of students and
their families by making a college education a realistic possibility,” Buxton said.
“GEAR UP for LIFE represents the best of a school-university collaborative partnership, in which
the school educators work with university researchers to adapt evidence-based practices to
support their students’ learning, exploration of potential careers, and to demystify the
educational opportunities that follow a student’s high school career,” said Dr. Scott Wilson,
Associate Director of Innovative Learning and Primary Investigator on the GEAR UP grants at
the K20 Center.
The GEAR UP for LIFE initiative builds upon the K20 Center’s legacy of innovation and
educational reform. Over the past three decades, the K20 Center has championed collaborative
outreach, innovative technology integration, and transformative community connections,
positively influencing education at local and global levels.
With GEAR UP for LIFE, the K20 Center is excited to serve the following school partners:
● Anadarko Middle School
● Caney Valley Middle School
● Wells Middle School, Catoosa
● Checotah Middle School
● Chickasha Middle School
● Chouteau Middle School
● Davis Middle School
● Del City Middle School
● Dewar Middle School
● Virgil Cooper Middle School, Drumright
● Etta Dale Junior High School, El Reno
● Elmore City-Pernell Middle School
● Dewitt Waller Middle School, Enid
● Emerson Middle School, Enid

● Longfellow Middle School, Enid
● Frontier Elementary School, Red Rock
● Central Middle School, Lawton
● Eisenhower Middle School, Lawton
● MacArthur Middle School, Lawton
● Midwest City Middle School
● 6th & 7th Grade Academy at Ben Franklin, Muskogee
● Oklahoma Union School, South Coffeyville
● Salina Middle School
● Sallisaw Middle School
● Shawnee Middle School
● Vian Middle School
● Wagoner Middle School

To learn more about how GEAR UP for LIFE is transforming educational pathways and
empowering students, visit GEAR UP Partnerships - K20 Center (ou.edu)