Congressman Fattah's Oklahoma Whirlwind Trip on Friday

Jun 10, 2010, 13:56 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

Urban Caucus Chair Addresses U.S. Mayors on Energy Efficiency, Visits Oklahoma GEAR UP Innovators, Students

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus and architect of the national college readiness program GEAR UP, will travel to Oklahoma on Friday June 11 to address U.S. mayors on urban energy efficiency grants and to tour an innovative GEAR UP center for low-income youth.

The whirlwind tour includes stops in Oklahoma City and Norman that highlight the multi-faceted agenda that the Philadelphia Congressman has been advocating as a leader for cutting edge urban-oriented legislation.

Fattah will address the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting, keynoting the Climate Protection Awards luncheon at the Renaissance Oklahoma City Hotel. He will be describing the successful rollout for the $3.2 billion Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program in hundreds of cities that he led to enactment in the Recovery Act.

Fattah then travels to the University of Oklahoma at Norman for two visits showcasing Oklahoma's involvement in GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – the $3 billion, 49-state program that Fattah wrote in 1998 and guided to enactment. More than 12 million students from underserved and low-income backgrounds have received assistance, starting in middle school, to prepare them for college enrollment, a goal that might otherwise have been unattainable.

At OU, Fattah will visit the K20 Center GEAR UP for SUCCESS, which is developing on-line games for GEAR UP that will be launched this fall. K20 works with 3,500 students in 36 middle and high schools. Fattah's next stop will be the Rawls Engineering Practice Facility on campus to address GEAR UP students and their parents.

The Congressman makes it a practice, whenever traveling, to meet with GEAR UP students and officials.

"It is inspiring to visit with these young people and their parents all across the nation," Fattah said. "I am privileged to hear their stories and to see how our next generation is preparing to work for and attain the American dream, no matter how modest their circumstances.

"GEAR UP is our most successful national program for preparing students as young as sixth graders for the rigors and the opportunities of a college education that they might otherwise not even consider," Fattah said. "GEAR UP is now an international model, and here at home it continues to grow and innovate, which is why I am excited to be touring the K20 Center at OU to see the latest developments."

The K20 Center tour, with official Lori Johnson, will bring the program's national architect up-to-the-minute information about the development of computer games that get underserved youths thinking about a college career.

The first GEAR UP game to be rolled out from the K20 Center educates students and their parents on college- and career-based decisions, allowing them to examine the impact of those decisions on post-high school matters. The student decides whether to enroll in a college and selects a major, then explores relationships between studying and grades, degrees and careers, and careers and projected disposable income.

Earlier Friday, Congressman Fattah will make a return visit to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which he has addressed on numerous occasions as head of the bipartisan Congressional Urban Caucus and chief advocate for smart solutions and federal aid for a broad urban agenda.

Fattah has been the leading advocate for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, which have received $3.2 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for distribution to 1,000 American cities and communities. The Congressman will address mayors about the role that cities and their partners, such as universities, hospitals, businesses and other government units, can play in reducing carbon emissions.

"Local governments are uniquely positioned to foster a grass-roots approach to the development and deployment of energy efficiency and conservation projects and directly confront climate change," Fattah said.

"These energy grants spur our economic recovery efforts – and much more. They provide the means for creative solutions through weatherization, retrofitting public buildings, employing smart growth planning and zoning to reduce automobile usage, and expanding the use of renewable energy sources.

"Some of the finest efforts are occurring in my home town of Philadelphia under the dynamic, ground-breaking leadership of Mayor Michael Nutter, who is in Oklahoma City for this conference," Fattah said. "Philadelphia is investing $14 million from energy and conservation grants in loans for energy efficient projects, solutions such as 85,000 new efficient traffic signals, expanding an incentive-based recycling program and many more exciting initiatives."

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah