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      Students "GEAR UP" to Chase Education Dreams with Help of Program

      It TMs the American dream a good portion of Latinos feel is out of their reach|A higher education in the field of their choice, to broaden their horizons, and extend their hope for a better life.

      For Luis Correa, his story of his struggles to get there are similar.

      We were living in a small secluded house, said Correa, adding, I worked in the fields since 9-9, in 12 hour shifts. It was hard. It was hard thinking I was the only one doing it. I didn't want my brothers to do it anymore."

      For many Latinos, similar challenges stand in their way.

      But the truth is there is help.

      Several federally funded programs now aim to help underprivileged students advance to the next level.

      One of those, GEAR UP, is helping 10,500 students annually in the valley.

      Our mission is just to support the child and their family and create that culture everywhere they go, said Rita Cedillo of GEAR-UP.

      It TMs programs like GEAR-UP that have helped students like Luis gain access to what they need to succeed.

      Luis says, It gave me the opportunity to enter advanced courses, give me the tests I need to enter college. They gave me the tutoring. The opportunity to visit campuses. They gave me scholarship opportunities.

      And there's proof it's working.

      GEAR-UP went from a 57 percent success rate in 2006 to 68 this year.

      That adds to the national tally.

      A study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Institute shows...

      This year, for the first time, over 2-million Latinos were enrolled in 2-and-4 year institutions.

      That makes it the largest minority group on campuses, at 16-point-5 percent.

      All signs point to even more growth ahead.

      So many other students will have the opportunities Luis is so thankful for today.

      I was able to exceed every expectation i had for myself, said Luis.