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Program Description

GEAR UP is a federally funded grant program whose goal is to increase college awareness for students and their families and to help students develop the skills and preparation necessary to pursue education after high school.

Many of America's talented young people end their formal education at high school. For them, the opportunity to finish high school and progress to college is not apparent. This is due to a number of factors including: low expectations, low motivation and lack of appropriate curriculum, instruction and support.

Although this problem cuts across all income levels, it is particularly acute for the nation's poor. Today, high academic achievers from low-income families are five times less likely to attend college than their more economically advantaged peers.

GEAR UP is designed to enable more young Americans to stay in school, study hard, and take the right courses to succeed in college. It is aimed at enabling low-income communities and States to create new or expanded plans that strengthen their schools and provide educational opportunities for low-income students. Through GEAR UP, the U.S. Department of Education addresses the challenge to help more low-income students become prepared academically and financially to enter into and succeed in college.

Mentors facilitate a student's educational, social, and personal growth through a supportive one-on-one relationship. For lack of a better word, a mentor is a "role model." Tutors assist with core academic courses, such as algebra, reading or writing.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Arts and cultural
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • Parent/family services
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants


Populations Served

  • Academically At-risk


  • Less than 25%