Freshman at Fridley High School and Cooper High Schools are in the third year of a seven-year college preparatory program that will follow them into their first year of college. GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park Campus, and partnering organizations which includes TopLine Federal Credit Union of Maple Grove.
The aim of the seven-year grant is to support student academic performance and assist with college preparation, enrollment and achievement, with the goal being to increase the number of students who are academically and financially prepared for post-secondary education.
TopLine has and will continue to help GEAR UP students and their families learn more about post-secondary education options, as well as preparation and financing. Recently, TopLine taught in-school sessions on finance basics to over two hundred area high school students, and led a series of workshops for parents at Robbinsdale Middle School’s Parent Resource Fair, College Now, College Later: It’s Never Too Early to Talk About College.
Students learned about the basics of personal finance, such as how to set goals, create a budget, balance a checkbook, the importance of saving, safeguarding identity and more.
The family resource fair event offered families an opportunity to learn from experts about preparatory programs, planning and funding for college. TopLine Federal Credit Union hosted workshops on college financial planning, examining key topics including college costs, saving for college, goal setting and budgeting.
“One of the many benefits for our students and families has been the partnerships with local community businesses and organizations,” said Mary Vang, Director of GEAR UP. “We are grateful for all of the collegiate, community and financial institution partners who are dedicated to helping our students prepare for and succeed in college.”
“It’s never too early to plan for a child’s college education,” said Tom Smith, President and CEO of TopLine Federal Credit Union. “The GEAR UP initiative helps to equip families for what lies ahead — planning for, preparing and financing post secondary education options. TopLine has a long history and is highly committed to educating families about personal finance, and our partnership allows us to help the next generation prepare both academically and financially.”
These sessions will continue on a regular basis for the duration of the GEAR UP grant, and will cover basic financial skills, highlighting the benefits of long-term financial planning and promoting the opening and management of savings accounts.
A longstanding advocate of youth financial literacy, TopLine also offers a Get Smart with Your Money program for members and non-members, providing three age-specific classes at its Maple Grove location: Building Dreams for ages 5-8; Dollar Power for ages 9-13; and Dollars & Sense for ages 14-18. For more information on the next class sessions, visit www.toplinecu.com.
The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant is a discretionary program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. GEAR UP serves the entire ninth-grade student cohort at Fridley and Cooper High Schools and will track and encourage that cohort through high school and into their first year of college. For more on the GEAR UP grant and other community and business partners visit http://www.hennepintech.edu
TopLine Federal Credit Union, a Twin Cities-based credit union, is Minnesota’s 13th largest, with assets of more than $360 million. Established in 1935, the not-for-profit cooperative offers a complete line of financial services, as well as auto and home insurance, from its five branch locations — in Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Plymouth and in St. Paul’s Como Park — as well as by phone, mobile app and online at www.TopLinecu.com. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or volunteers in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington Counties and their immediate family members.
Vicki Roscoe Erickson
Vice President, Marketing