Montana GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal grant that was awarded in September of 2011 to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) for the State of Montana. The purpose of this federal initiative is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
Montana GEAR UP provides college and career readiness services, such as tutoring, financial aid information, enrollment in rigorous academic courses, comprehensive mentoring, college visits, supplemental curriculum materials, and professional development for school staff. The program serves these students as they progress through middle and high school.
Beginning in year two of the current grant, Montana GEAR UP will work through postsecondary institutions to support GEAR UP college freshman with their transition to and retention in college. By the end of the grant, more than 8800 students, including 5800 American Indian students, will have participated in the program.
Montana GEAR UP will also provide services at the state level to benefit all Montana schools and students. These include funding the annual Montana School Counselor Association Spring Institute, supporting the Montana College Access Network, support for the Common Core State Standards implementation, and most significantly funding the ACT test for all Montana public high school juniors.