NWU receives $1.9 million federal grant for LPS partnership

  • High school teacher standing and talking in front of the class.
    The NWU and LPS partnership will focus on improved academic opportunities for underserved students.
  • High school teacher standing and talking in front of the class.
    The NWU and LPS partnership will focus on improved academic opportunities for underserved students.

Nebraska Wesleyan University has received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to partner with Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) on efforts to improve academic opportunities for underserved students in the areas of American history, civics and geography.

The federal grant provides funding for a 36-month partnership to improve the persistence and success of students in LPS secondary social studies honors courses at the middle and high school levels. These high school courses typically allow students to earn college credit through Wesleyan Honors Academy and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

The grant project is titled, “Providing Rigor and Opportunity: Meaningful Instruction for Success for Every Student (PROMISES).” Highlights of the program include:

  • 60 LPS middle and high school teachers can apply to take 18 graduate credit hours designed and taught by NWU faculty at no cost. NWU courses will help prepare LPS teachers to meet the needs of all LPS students enrolled in social studies honors courses. Teachers selected to participate will enroll in classes at NWU beginning next summer;
  • Most teachers who successfully complete the program will be eligible to teach in Wesleyan Honors Academy, a dual credit program for high school students;
  • NWU will host LPS high school students for AP exam prep sessions on Saturdays each spring semester;
  • LPS students can sign up to take AP exams in United States history, human geography and American government at no cost.

“The project embodies our core values of diversity and community and aligns wonderfully with Nebraska Wesleyan’s efforts to improve college accessibility,” said Nebraska Wesleyan University President Darrin Good. “We’re grateful and excited for the opportunity to implement a project that will significantly impact two outstanding educational institutions in Lincoln.”

“This grant will allow us to increase access and eliminate barriers by supporting our teachers and students,” said LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman. “Our continued collaboration with Nebraska Wesleyan will help us achieve our goals of increasing participation in our honors courses and providing opportunities for rigorous coursework for all students as outlined in our All Means All Action Plan. Community partnerships like this with Nebraska Wesleyan will help all our students become college, career and civic ready.”

Kevin Bower, Nebraska Wesleyan University professor of history, will lead the project.

“This is an ideal partnership that draws upon Lincoln Public Schools’ commitment to the notion that all means all when it comes to making sure every student in Lincoln has the opportunity to reach their full academic potential,” said Bower. “This project combines the shared values of public education and higher education to make ours a community of opportunity for every young person.”

Jaclyn Kellison, K-12 social studies curriculum specialist and project lead for LPS added, “This project will remove barriers by providing funding for students to take Advanced Placement exams in these specific courses, no matter their economic situation. This will also bring teachers together to both draw upon their own experiences and learn from scholars to deliver a classroom experience that meets the needs of every student in middle and high school social studies courses."

The grant is the largest competitive federal grant that Nebraska Wesleyan has received in a decade. Nebraska Wesleyan is among 25 recipients from across the country to receive a U.S. Department of Education grant focused on American history and civics education activities.