Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)

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Annual Performance Report

The following text versions of the Annual Performance Report (APR) can be used as working copies to compile information for entry into the Web-based APR.

Grantee-Level Performance Results: 2004-05, 2005-06

Program performance measure data, as submitted by GEAR UP grantees in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 annual performance reports.

Financial Status and Program Performance Final Report For State and Partnership GEAR UP Grants

GEAR UP Success Stories

The following success stories were submitted by current GEAR UP grantees to illustrate the strong work being done in the field with GEAR UP funding.

California | Hawaii | Kentucky | New Jersey
Maine | Massachusetts | Nevada | New York
Oregon | Washington
GEAR UP Students


In the Glendale Unified School District, we have used our GEAR UP grant to develop a variety of experiences that are leading our cohort students step by step through their critical senior year. With the combined expertise of both university and community college admissions and financial aid officers, high school counselors, Cash for College staff, professional college coaches (of College Focus and Making It Count), as well as GEAR UP personnel, we created workshops specifically focused on each of the following topics: preparing the personal essay, finding the right college, strengthening study skills and time management, completing applications for both public and private universities, paying for college, completing the FAFSA, and connecting undocumented students with helpful resources. Many of these have been presented multiple times and in multiple languages in order to serve our families of diverse backgrounds.

The director and staff of the Financial Aid office of Glendale Community College provided three free-of-charge, hands-on, multilingual FAFSA workshops for parents and students in which 90 percent of the attendees completed the application online before leaving, and from which one student at each workshop will win a $1000 Cash for College Scholarship. We have learned from each of these events that our GEAR UP partners are indispensable, and we look forward to making these workshops a part of senior years-to-come in Glendale Unified.


Preparing for higher education beginning in middle school proves to be the formula for success as evidenced by the Hawaii state grant, GEAR UP Hawaii Scholars, who graduated in the Classes of 2006 and 2007. In their 8th grade year, students in the Classes of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, along with their parents, made a pledge to prepare for higher education. They were challenged to prepare early and to earn the Board of Education (BOE) diploma, which is considered an honors diploma. By meeting this milestone and demonstrating financial need, they could apply for the GEAR UP scholarship for college. Of the 1,660 GEAR UP Scholars who graduated in 2006 and 1,522 who graduated in 2007, 45 percent earned the BOE diploma as compared to the statewide average of 32 percent.

Increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared for college is the GEAR UP mission. Statistics show that GEAR UP Hawaii initiatives are also making significant strides toward this goal. For the Classes of 2006 and 2007, 39 percent and 40 percent respectively of the GEAR UP Scholars who are low-income earned the BOE Diploma, compared to 23 percent of low-income graduates statewide who earned the honors diploma. More importantly, GEAR UP Scholars closed the achievement gap with 40 percent of low-income Scholars earning a BOE diploma, compared with 36 percent of non-low-income students statewide.

College enrollment data also show that GEAR UP Scholars in the Class of 2006 beat the statewide average in college enrollment rates. Fifty one percent of GEAR UP Scholars were confirmed as enrolled in college in the Fall of 2006 as compared to 46 percent of 2006 graduates statewide. Low-income students benefited the most with 46 percent of low-income Scholars confirmed as enrolled in college in the fall of 2006 versus 34 percent of low-income graduates statewide. In addition, more low-income Scholars enrolled at four-year colleges and universities (19 percent) than the statewide low-income average (11 percent).

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The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative GEAR UP Project conducted an activity called College 101 during the 2007 fall semester. This activity involved 182 GEAR UP students and parents in collaboration with the Bowling Green Technical College and Kentucky Advanced Technology Institute. Students and parents toured the facilities of the Technical College and Institute, heard from professors about various academic programs, visited with counselors and learned about admissions requirements and financial aid, and took part in a program that encouraged them to do well in high school as they prepare for postsecondary education.

New Jersey

The College Knowledge Passaic is a high priority project for the Passaic School District at Lincoln Middle School (LMS) and Passaic High School (PHS). Twenty-one percent of the families with children in Passaic live below the poverty level. Hispanics make up 63 percent of the population and over 71 percent speak a language other than English at home. In 2005, 47 percent of Passaic residents over the age of 25 had no high school diploma or its equivalent. Thirty-nine percent of the population between the ages of 18-19 was not enrolled in school. Only five percent of the Passaic adult population (18 or up) was enrolled in college or graduate school.

The grantee focuses on a cohort of 825 students in the 7th grade at Lincoln Middle School and follows this cohort through the twelfth grade at Passaic High School. The grant was awarded in fall 2005. At Lincoln Middle School, 89 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced–price lunch. At the time the grant proposal was written, only 38 percent of the teachers had certificates in mathematics; 36 percent in science, and 23 percent in language arts.

The overarching goal of the project is to increase GU students’ and their families' knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing. To address this objective, the grantee scheduled the Sallie Mae Fund's "Paying for College" Bus Tour visit for the 8th-2th grade GU students and parents. Over 400 participants attended this Saturday morning workshop, which was simultaneously translated into Spanish via wireless headsets. The free College Access guidebooks were distributed to all attendees. One of the Passaic High School (PHS) freshmen was awarded a $1,000.00 scholarship through a random drawing to a college of her choice to be awarded when she graduates. Following the morning workshop the "Paying for College" bus went to the evening homecoming game and distributed an additional 150 College Access/Financial Aid books. An additional $250 college scholarship was awarded to a PHS sophomore during half time. This student said that he would be the first person in his family to go to college and plans to study law.

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"In high school I was always thinking about my future. The tools...[Personal Learning Plans, Student-Led Conferences and Portfolios] allowed me to understand where I was as a student, and where I wanted to be in the future. I always kept a portfolio of all my best drawings and that portfolio ended up getting me into art school."

Maine State GU Graduate

Since receiving our first GEAR UP (GU) grant in 1999, the Maine State GEAR UP program has consistently promoted research-based strategies to help students from economically disadvantaged families gain readiness for, and access to, postsecondary success. Personalizing learning, as noted above by a Maine State GU graduate, illustrates a critical component to improving outcomes for GU students in Maine.

GU program staff supports schools to implement three targeted strategies to personalize learning: Personal Learning Plans, Student-Led Conferences, and Portfolio Development. Each of these practices is designed to more fully engage students in designing, directing, and assessing their strengths, challenges, goals, learning strategies and experiences. Additionally, these processes provide essential ways to actively engage GU families in understanding and supporting their child’s goals and aspirations. These strategies are currently being systematically implemented in over 60 percent of the Maine State GU districts, with the others developing their implementation plans and processes to support personalized learning.

While personalized learning can be a broad concept, the Maine GU focus on Personal Learning Plans, Student-Led Conferences and Portfolios provide a focused and targeted approach to engaging students and their families in the learning process.

Personal Learning Plans allow the students to articulate short- and long-term goals and detail various aspects of their learning (i.e., learning styles, needs, learning strategies, etc.). Students engage in self–assessments, interest inventories, and other processes which can inform them of possible career paths. With this information in mind, students work with their teachers to identify pathways through which they can successfully prepare for college programs that will ultimately help them achieve their long term goals.

Student Portfolio process helps the student identify artifacts that showcase their learning, talents, interests, and achievements. It is essentially a collection of the student’s best work over time which can be used as they prepare for college and to share with family members, peers, and their school and local communities. Guidance from school staff is necessary in order for students to think critically and select work that showcases their individual talents.

Student-Led Conferences provide a format for the student to engage in a meaningful and student-directed conversation with their family(ies) and teacher(s) regarding their goals and plans, and an opportunity to showcase their work. These allow the students to begin the conversation of their college aspirations with their families and the importance of financial planning, scholarship, and award opportunities. Maine GU schools have reported as much as an 80 percent increase in parental involvement in student conferences, which they have attributed to the implementation of Student-Led Conferences.

"[Personalized learning] got us thinking about college and what we were going to do with our lives. [It] also made us realize that we could set goals and attain them," wrote Victoria Tracy, a Piscataquis Community High School GEAR UP graduate.

To more fully understand the effects of personalized learning on Maine GU student achievement, staff from the Maine State GEAR UP applied for, and received, a planning grant to study these strategies. We believe that when the triad of personal learning plans, student-led conferences, and portfolios is used to personalize learning, students’ aspirations and their likelihood of postsecondary preparedness and success increase.

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The first GEAR UP project administered by Mount Wachusett Community College, which ended in 2005, graduated the highest percentage of students at the Fitchburg Public Schools of any class in recent history. The 'stop-out' rate of students decreased by 10 percent, and there was an increase of 56 percent in postsecondary aspirations from students' 7th grade year to graduation.

The current GEAR UP project at Mount Wachusett Community College, which offered employment opportunities to 150 middle and high school students in the summer of 2006, resulted in 71 percent of the middle and high school students reporting a decrease in risk-taking behaviors and 54 percent reporting that they made an impact in their community. One of the activities included supervised recreational programs for children in high-risk neighborhoods. Another activity included GEAR UP Summer Up youth staff partnering with local law enforcement, local community agencies and educational institutions to serve over 370 elementary students from low-income neighborhoods to ensure safe, recreational programs.


The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) GEAR UP programs are housed in The Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach. The GEAR UP programs have made a huge impact in the Clark County School District schools.

Roy Martin Middle School not only met Academic Yearly Progress (AYP), but was the only low-income middle school in Clark County to score as a high achieving school. Also, Roy Martin Middle School was chosen as one of two Title I Distinguished Schools for Nevada. William Orr and J D Smith Middle Schools met AYP in three categories, English/Language Arts participation, mathematics participations, and attendance. The average daily attendance has improved at four of six 2002 UNLV GEAR UP middle schools. The GEAR UP cohort had its first graduating seniors May 2007.

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New York

Over Forty Percent of Students in Bronx Institute Prep Course Earn Admissions to City's Specialized High Schools.

The Bronx Institute GEAR UP Network program has assisted students from New York City's most economically challenged neighborhoods to be accepted to the city’s specialized high schools—a gateway to the nation’s top colleges—after completing a free preparation course and workshop offered by the program.

In 2006, 147 eighth-grade GEAR UP students enrolled in our Specialized High School Prep and Workshop Program. After taking the qualifying exam, 45.6 percent were accepted in 2007 into one of nine prestigious specialized public high schools—i.e., Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School, and Brooklyn Tech (as well as six more of the highest rated high schools in the city). The overall acceptance rate for New York City middle schools is 20 percent; for the Bronx schools represented by GEAR UP students, acceptance rates into specialized high schools average at 2 percent.

New York

The City University of New York Middle Grades Initiative/GEAR UP (MGI/GU) program ran summer programs at three CUNY campuses in 2007 for 70 rising 8th graders. The programs met four days a week for two or three weeks and provided students with a sense of what it’s like to be a college student through intense, structured learning opportunities on an actual campus. Students worked in campus classrooms and computer labs, ate in the cafeterias, and used campus recreational facilitates. All programs were taught by experts in their discipline and were supported by MGI/GU tutors and advisors.

The 3-week Lehman College MGI/GU Summer Academy focused on web design and career/college exploration through digital photography. Students participated in daily classes in each discipline and created a website documenting their summer experience. Students also visited the Bronx Zoo and participated in swimming and gym activities every afternoon. Parents attended an end-of-program awards ceremony.

The two-week City College MGI/GU Summer Math Academy provided intense classroom instruction in algebra, geometry and probability for struggling math students. The program prepared the students for the challenges of 8th-grade math through rigorous lessons that included hands-on activities, problem solving, and math games. Students also took two educational field trips to the Sony Wonder Technology Laboratory and the American Museum of Natural History. The field trips enhanced their knowledge of mathematics, technology, physics, and careers in science.

The two-week Hunter College summer program entitled The Lifecycle of a Nike Gym Shoe focused on fashion merchandising and manufacturing. Students improved their literacy skills while exploring how Nike gym shoes are designed, manufactured, and advertised. The program kept students moving! They learned basic interviewing skills and conducted person-on-the-street interviews in midtown Manhattan to learn where most clothing and shoes are made. They mapped out their results and created blogs about their findings. Students visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum to learn about responsible product design and met with activist and documentary filmmaker Jim Keady to learn about working and living conditions of factory workers in the third world.

The GEAR UP program offered students a diverse menu of activities during summer 2007, which was designed to stimulate their minds, provide exposure to new settings and career options, and prepare them for high school. Three sessions were offered -- a four-week program at Dowling College with weekly field trips, a one-week program at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and two days of video production at the high school.

Twenty students enrolled in the program. While at Dowling College, they received instruction in environmental science, aviation and robotics including math and literacy support. ("I want to be an Aviator when I grow up," said Sean Ramos who attended Aviation classes") The second session took place at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which provided students with an opportunity to conduct experiments involving DNA, nanotechnology, and GPS/telemetry. In the last session, teams of students produced three videos, under the guidance of Wyandanch High School Digital Technology teacher Mr. Bruce Penn.

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Students from Oregon GEAR UP schools are showing marked improvements in their academic performance:

Since the beginning of the program in 2002 there has been a 44 percent increase in the number of students taking AP course examinations.

63 percent more students took the PSAT last year compared with 2002.

The percentage of students meeting or exceeding statewide standards on the 10th grade reading assessment climbed 16 percent. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding statewide standards on the 10th grade math assessment climbed 13 percent.

One other indication of the outstanding quality of students from Oregon GEAR UP schools is the fact that a student from Oregon has been selected to participate in the Booz Allen Hamilton Student Leadership Summit at the National GEAR UP Conference for four consecutive years.

One reason for our success is the hard work our schools put in on planning their activities. Every year we host a two-day retreat where our schools bring teams consisting of teachers, administrators, community and family members to evaluate their past work and plan for the future. This event is appropriately named the SUCCESS Retreat which stands for Supporting Unique Community Coalitions Engaged in Student Success.


"GREEN EDGE" wins honors at FIRST LEGO LEAGUE regional and State Competition.

A unique group of talented and dedicated boys and girls formed our "GREEN EDGE" LEGO Robotics team for the Energy Challenge 2007. Teams programmed a robot on a computer to perform energy-related tasks in a 2.5 minute "run" and also created a "sustainable energy" solution to a local problem. At the regional competition in Moses Lake on Dec 1, 2007, Tonasket won the Robot Performance Award, continuing on to the state competition Dec 8th in Bellevue, WA. "GREEN EDGE" received the Judges Award in state competition for the unique and humanitarian "solution" of designing energy efficient "green" home to be built by Habitat for Humanity in Okanogan this coming year. GEAR-UP will participate!

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From a GEAR-UP Administrator in Delaware


Denise joined GEAR UP in the 10th grade. She was retained in a 9th grade homeroom because she could not pass the state’s proficiency test.

Denise is an immigrant from Mexico. She arrived in Delaware in time to begin her high school studies in this state. She was initially enrolled only in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, but with GEAR UP guidance she quickly determined that her best chance of preparing for college was to enroll in the most rigorous courses possible.

She challenged herself and insisted that the school counselors give her the opportunity to take Honors and AP courses. GEAR UP staff supported her and her parents in getting the guidance staff to track her into advanced courses, such as AP Psychology and Spanish.

She completed high school last spring with a solid grade point average (3.5). She was admitted to study Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware in the freshman class of 2007. Denise is the first GEAR UP-supported student in Delaware to graduate from high school.

Denise often refers to her goal of becoming the first person in her family to get a college degree and achieve a dream for herself and her parents.


Up through grade five, Christopher was a special education student. He has a unique cognitive style, which makes him very deliberate in responding to questions and participating in class. His mother decided to end his career in special education when he completed elementary school. He entered middle school without an I.E.P. and without provisions for special services. He was a 7th grade student at A.I. duPont Middle School in Wilmington when GEAR UP services were organized in that school. He was not tracked for the two college preparatory courses offered at the school—Honors Mathematics (Algebra 1) and Honors English.

The Delaware GEAR UP program initiated additional sections of Algebra 1 and worked with students, parents, and the math teachers to support students who were not "tracked" for Honors courses in being accelerated into them. Christopher participated in after school tutoring and pre-algebra workshops that were conducted during the summer prior to beginning eighth grade. At the conclusion of the summer program, his algebra readiness score allowed him to take one of the additional sections of Algebra 1. He has continued taking Honors courses in high school, and he maintains a solid 3.0 grade point average.

Christopher plans to become a Mechanical Engineer. He is now a senior in high school, and is on track in taking mathematics prerequisites for engineering majors. He successfully completed his first college level mathematics course at Delaware Technical and Community College during the summer of 2007.


Taria is a member of the initial group of students supported by the Delaware GEAR UP grant at A.I. duPont Middle School. While Taria’s grades always reflect her hard work, she is a reluctant test taker. Based on the school's "tracking" system, her performance on state tests did not make her a good candidate for Algebra I in 8th grade.

Like Christopher, Taria participated in after-school tutoring and a pre-8th grade summer math enrichment program developed by GEAR UP. She was among the students in the "accelerated to algebra" group. With the additional support, she has blossomed, and Taria often functions as the student director of GEAR UP. She has significant influence with her peers and is a true model for the messages that GEAR UP wants students to embrace.

Taria has taken rigorous academic courses (almost all Honors and AP level courses), and maintains a 4.4 grade point average at Alexis I. duPont High School. She has also formally demonstrated her leadership skills by assuming several important leadership roles. Most significantly, Taria organized and managed a Teen Summit that was hosted by the GEAR UP program in the spring of 2007. Her very successful program is the model for a statewide student program that the Rodel Foundation will host in 2008. Taria serves in an advisory capacity to that effort.

Taria is a writer and would like to teach English. She is a dedicated peer tutor with a following of A.I. duPont High School underclassmen, whom she began tutoring when they were students in middle school. She has already received acceptance letters (early January) to several competitive universities. She will be the first person in her family to achieve a college degree.

Regarding Kentucky GEAR-UP Students

Beth and Harold, sophomores from Rockcastle County, Kentucky, were among the first students to benefit from a federal grant to help middle and high school students attend and succeed in college.

Both will tell you in no uncertain terms that "GEAR UP changed my life."

The $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education created a partnership among Rockcastle County Schools, Berea College, and other organizational partners to provide a wide range of intervention and enrichment services for students, parents, teachers, and schools. In 1999, when Beth and Harold were in 7th grade, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – GEAR UP for short – began in the Rockcastle County Schools, and it continued for six years until 2005, the year they graduated from high school.

Beth and Harold vividly recall that the field trips to visit colleges and universities opened their eyes to the world beyond rural Kentucky and a whole range of new cultural experiences. A Chicago trip for eighth graders was Beth's first visit to a 'real city' and an art museum.

Harold says the leadership skills and the encouragement that he received to continue his education were what he gained most from GEAR UP. "It helped me take the initiative just to apply to college," he says.

Beth and Harold are both first generation college students.

From GEAR-UP middle school students in Minnesota


Robin is a 2005 graduate of St. Paul's Humboldt Senior High. Robin was a GEAR UP program participant since 9th grade. Throughout her time in GEAR UP, Robin had attended many college visits, volunteered during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Day of Service, participated in the Cinco de Mayo parade, and had attended the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) summer academic enrichment camp at Macalester College during the past three summers. Before GEAR UP, she had not even thought about college, and now it is part of her daily life.

During her senior year at Humboldt, Robin was actively involved in the college application process, financial aid process, and applying for scholarships. Her hard work paid off, and she is currently enrolled at the College of Saint Benedict's in Minnesota. She was awarded the following scholarships: a $4,000 Presidential scholarship that is renewable for four years; a $7,500 I Lead scholarship that is renewable for four years; a $1,000 Ecolab scholarship that is renewable for two years.

Robin is in her first year at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN.

Robin in her own words:

“One thing that I’ve overcome is getting into a position to be the first person in my family to go to college. To be the first in my family to go to a four-year college puts a lot of pressure on me because of all the people who are expecting me to succeed. I want to look back and say, 'Yeah, I was the first person to make it through. I want to be able to look back and know that I paved the way for my siblings.'"


Alejandra is a 2005 GEAR UP graduate of St. Paul Humboldt Senior High, has participated in the GEAR UP program since 1999 when she was in 7th grade.

In middle school, Alejandra rebelled from school and her parents. She had no interest in college and paid little attention to the GEAR UP staff during presentations. Gangs were a part of her life, and so she began to spend time with the wrong crowd. As the weeks went by, she gradually tuned in to the GEAR UP classroom workshops and learned about the importance of college. Her mother worked closely with her to get her back on track and she rid herself of gang involvement.

By the time 9th grade came, she was ready to work hard and prepare for college. Alejandra has three younger sisters at home, so it was important to her to that she succeed because they looked up to her. She maintained a 3.0 grade point average and was active in and out of school. Folkloric dance has always been a part of her life, and she performed with a dance group in her community. She also worked hard to improve the Saint Paul West Side community by volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, in addition to working on political campaigns. Her dedication and compassion will help her succeed in the future.

Alejandra received the $4,000 Boys and Girls Club Service Scholarship and the $2,000 Constance Curry Scholarship. Due to her academic success, she also received the Minnesota State University, Mankato Academic Scholarship for $500. Alejandra attends Minnesota State University, Mankato and plans to major in social work. Alejandra is a role model for all GEAR UP students because of her determination to succeed. She is also the first person in her family to go to college.


Chai is a 2005 GEAR UP graduate of St. Paul Humboldt Senior High, has participated in the GEAR UP program since 1999 when he was a 7th grader.

Chai was an exemplary student who graduated from Humboldt in the top ten of his class. Throughout his high school career, he challenged himself by taking Advanced Placement and College in the Schools courses. He was a role model for his peers because he demonstrated impressive grades, while being active in many school and community organizations such as: Soccer, Cross Country, Tennis, Math Team, Yearbook Photographer, Student Council, Junior Class Council, Friendship Club, and the Youth Initiative Program.

College was always in Chai's vocabulary, and he was always motivated to prepare for his future. For many summers, he received scholarships to attend Macalester College's Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY), where he took college-like courses in Animation, Speech, Government, and Asian Studies. In the summer of 2004, Chai was accepted to the United States Senate Youth Program, where he spent a week in Washington D.C participating in an on-site introduction to the functions of the federal government. He learned about the Senate and met with political leaders like Minnesota Senator, Norm Coleman. These experiences led him to pursue his dream of being in politics.

Due to his achievements, Chai Lee received the Optimist Club Scholarship for $500 and an Academic Scholarship at Carleton College for $8,000. Chai attends Carleton College and plans to major in political science. With Chai’s passion for politics and his community, he will make a difference in St. Paul.

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Last Modified: 09/07/2017