The U.S. Department of Education awarded Wesleyan University, in collaboration with LPS, a $1.9 million grant to improve the persistence and success of middle and high school students in social studies honor courses. One of its highlights is providing free AP exams in U.S. history, human geography and American government for LPS students. 

“This project will remove barriers by providing funding for students to take Advanced Placement exams in these specific courses, no matter their economic situation,” LPS K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Jaci Kellison said. 

“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,” Nebraska Wesleyan history professor Kevin Bower said. 

Kellison and Bower will co-lead the “Providing Rigor and Opportunity: Meaningful Instruction for Success for Every Student (PROMISES)” grant project for three years.

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

The federal funds will also provide the following benefits

    • 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 during summer 2024.
    • 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.

“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,” Kellison said. 

“This project combines the shared values of public education and higher education to make ours a community of opportunity for every young person,” Bower said.

The multimillion-dollar grant also aligns with the school district’s goal of boosting honors course enrollment among all students in the All Means All Action Plan

“This grant will allow us to increase access and eliminate barriers by supporting our teachers and students,” LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman said. “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.”