Fayetteville State University plans to use an $8.2 million grant to help more than 1,500 Cumberland County students prepare for college.

The university will get money from the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or  GEAR UP, over the next seven years, according to  statement released Monday by FSU officials. The programs are intended to prepare middle and high school students for college through the academic preparation program.

Students from Douglas Byrd Middle School, Douglas Byrd High School, E.E. Smith High School, Lewis Chapel Middle School, Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School, Seventy First High School, Westover Middle School and Westover High School will participate.

Activities will include academic coaching and advising; academic support workshops; college and financial aid awareness and assistance; tutoring, homework assistance and supplemental instruction; and mentoring programs. Also included are programs to help parents assist their children; science, technology, engineering and mathematics related activities; expanded learning programs to be held after school, on Saturdays and during the summer; help with transition to college; and training for teachers.

Other organizations participating in the programs are Cumberland County Schools; Fayetteville Technical Community College; Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation centers; Back-to-School Inc.; Epsilon Rho Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; Group Theory Inc.; Steps to the Future, LLC; Great Oak Youth Development Centers Inc.; and Uncommon Individual Foundation.

Teresa Thompson-Pinckney, executive director of college access and success programs at FSU, said GEAR UP is meant to encourage young people to stay in school, study hard and take the right courses to prepare for college.

“Through this project, Fayetteville State University, along with our partners, is demonstrating our commitment to youth living in Cumberland County by leveraging resources for us to invest in student success and create a culture that helps all young people achieve,” she said.

Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at sdevane@fayobserver.com or 486-3572.