hurd on the hill

When you hear the phrase “national security,” what comes to mind? The goals of protecting our homeland from intruders, cultivating a strong military and encouraging thoughtful foreign policy certainly are important pieces of the puzzle. However, ensuring a quality education for today’s students is also a vital component. Americans simply cannot be protected for generations to come without a well-educated workforce. That’s why in Congress I strive to be an advocate for educational opportunities for our South and West Texas students. Ensuring access to educational opportunities for all Texans, regardless of their backgrounds, strengthens our economy, drives technological advancement across every industry and allows folks to overcome socioeconomic challenges that are influenced by education inequality. One of the ways that thousands of students in the 23rd District of Texas obtain the tools needed for educational success is through an education grant program called GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. This competitive federal grant program is designed to better prepare low-income students for college and their careers through counseling, tutoring, mentoring and scholarships as early as middle school. GEAR UP serves 45 middle and high schools in TX-23, giving thousands of local students in your communities the tools they need to finish school and become valuable contributors to our workforce. I recently introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and increase eligible uses of GEAR UP grants, because I’ve seen the evidence that this program is working right here at home.. Take for example, Lucero Castaneda, senior at Somerset High School and winner of the 2016 GEAR UP Youth Award. Not only will Lucero be a part of the first generation of her family to go to college this fall, but also she will be the first Somerset ISD student to attend Harvard University – and on a full scholarship, no less. Local students like Lucero have access to the tools they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond because of programs like GEAR UP. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that every student in Texas has an equal chance for success for generations to come.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.