The GEAR UP University/School/Community Partnership

The GEAR UP Partnership Programs to Increase Low Income Student College Education


The Federal GEAR UP Grant and Program

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal grant program that provides six-year grants to education / school / community partnerships and to states to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education. GEAR UP begins no later than the 7th grade, and provides services at high-poverty middle and high schools and college scholarships to low-income students.

While these partnerships use many strategies to attain their goals, mentoring of the students is a universal approach.

An Example of Gear Up Program Implementation

GEAR UP in Washington State GEAR UP has programs in 23 counties in Washington through nine partnership programs and two state programs.

The GEAR UP programs in Washington State provide the services that research indicates are critical for college readiness. More than 30,000 middle and high school students in Washington receive GEAR UP services. Washington State GEAR UP is a joint effort of the Office of the Governor, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, and other partners including the College Success Foundation and the University
of Washington.

Washington State GEAR UP consists of two programs:

  • Federally funded Scholars Project
  • State-funded GEAR UP for Student Success program

There are also Independent GEAR UP partnership programs which receive federal grants directly from the US Department of Education. All of the grantees are institutions of higher education and school district partnerships. They are:

  • Central Washington University – Okanogan Valley GEAR UP Project
  • Central Washington University GEAR UP
  • Eastern Washington University GEAR UP
  • The Evergreen State College GEAR UP Project
  • University of Washington GEAR UP Projects – Two Valleys-One Vision and The Sky is the Limit
  • Washington State University GEAR UP Projects – One Vision and Harvest of Hope
  • Wenatchee School District GEAR UP Project
  • Yakima School District No. 7 – GEAR UP for Yakima

GEAR UP Objectives

The GEAR UP Program exists to:

  • Promote equal access to education and educational excellence through concerted partnership efforts on behalf of low-income students.
  • Help ensure that all students have access to rigorous courses that prepare them for college.
  • Provide information early to students and parents about college options, required courses, and financial aid.
  • Develop a solid academic foundation for college in the schools through challenging courses, well-prepared teachers, and modern learning tools.
  • Promote reforms and improvements in the school curriculum, as well as in teaching and learning methods.
  • Promote strategies, programs, and activities for increased parent involvement in preparing students for college.
  • Provide intensive, individualized, and coordinated support to students that includes mentoring, counseling, and tutoring.
  • Provide ongoing staff training and professional development opportunities to help teachers raise expectations for all students.
  • Establish strong partnerships that involve a long-term commitment and a meaningful role for each partner in improving students’ preparation for college.
  • Build local and state efforts to encourage local and state investment that will sustain GEAR UP activities and services beyond the federal grant period.

Students Served

GEAR UP begins no later than the 7th grade, GEAR UP provides services at high-poverty middle and high schools and college scholarships to low-income students. The more than 30,000 students served by GEAR UP programs in Washington State come from a multitude of backgrounds and from all regions of the state.

  • American Indian or Alaskan Native 3.2%
  • Asian 2.1%
  • Black or African American 3.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino 43.4% White 47.3%
  • Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 27%