The University of Cincinnati received a $2.4 million federal grant to help disadvantaged youth in Cincinnati Public Schools better prepare for college. The grant, from the federal program GEARUP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, will support sixth- and seventh-grade students in 31 schools and follow them through their high school education.

Construction is underway on Xavier University’s new Hoff Academic Quadrangle, which will include a new, state-of-the-art Williams College of Business and a new Learning Commons that will provide students with facilities, technologies and services. Xavier is working with Messer Construction Co. on the project.

Thomas More College received $60,000 from the Roger Grein Philanthropy Program to start a new program called the Partners in Philanthropy Program. The gift will allow Thomas More faculty and students to award grants to local nonprofit groups.

Miami University is partnering with Earlham College and area media outlets to form the Miami-Whitewater Valley Public Media Project. The initiative received a $17,000 New Voices grant from J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland. The grant will allow faculty and students at Miami and Earlham to work with citizen and professional journalists to create a regional news service for Southwest Ohio and East Central Indiana.

Northern Kentucky University announced the creation of a newCenter for Economic Analysis and Development in the NKU Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business. The center, which opened July 1, will serve as a hub for economic analysis and business research, which, school officials say, will benefit regional organizations. Janet Harrah, who joined NKU after 21 years of experience as an applied economist, is senior director of the CEAD.

David Lichtenfeld, a former FBI agent and Xavier University graduate, donated $2,500 to Xavier’s Criminal Justice Department. The donation is part of the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Scholarship, which annually awards scholarships to colleges chosen by the Society of Former FBI Agents.

Education news may be e-mailed to Academic Quadrangle renderingDr. Hazel Barton, an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences at Northern Kentucky University, received a $710,000 five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study microorganisms in caves.

The grant, part of the foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development program, is a prestigious award that supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teachers and scholars through outstanding research.

“I have to take that money and show that it was a wise choice on their part to give it to me,” Barton says.

Barton hopes her research will lead to new drug discoveries, specifically new antibiotics to combat infectious diseases. Antibiotics come from organisms such as the ones found in caves, she says. Her research will include caves in Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Barton’s previous cave research has been featured inSports Illustrated, Forbes, National Geographic Explorer, Outsidemagazine, and in the IMAX movie Journey into Amazing Caves.