What is GEAR UP?

GEAR UP – Federal Discretionary Grant

“Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing States and local community-education partnerships six-to-seven year grants to offer support services to high-poverty, middle and high schools.

The program serves at least one grade level of students, beginning no later than the 7th grade, following them through high school graduation and their first year in college. GEAR UP provides critical early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, academic preparation, financial education and college scholarships to improve access to higher education for low income, minority and disadvantaged first-generation students and their families. GEAR UP funds can also be used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

The program mandates cooperation among K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, local and state education entities, businesses and community-based organizations. These dynamic partnerships are required to leverage local resources to match the federal investment dollar for dollar, creating a common agenda that more effectively facilitates the educational aspirations and attainment of students from low-income communities.”


To College & Beyond GEAR UP

Awarded in September 2017, the To College & Beyond GEAR UP project is spearheaded by the Institute for Public School Initiatives housed at the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. The project works with eight independent school districts in the Greater Austin & San Antonio region – Del Valle ISD, East Central ISD, Edgewood ISD, Lockhart ISD, Manor ISD, San Marcos Consolidated ISD, Somerset ISD, and Southwest ISD. The grant will work with business and community partners such Texas Instruments, Princeton Review, AVID, ACT, Marquez Reading, Focus Training, All Aboard Tours, TG, EGT Institute, Inc., Social Solutions Global, and Signal Vine. Additionally, the grant will also partner with higher education institutions such as Austin Community College, Huston-Tillotson University, and The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Some of the activities covered under this grant include:
For Students:

  • Opportunities for year-round before-school, during-school, and after-school academic tutoring, homework assistance, and mentoring (in-person & virtual),
  • Access to advanced & rigorous curricula such as Pre-AP, AP, IB, CTE, and Dual Credit courses,
  • Opportunities for credit recovery, extended learning, and accelerated learning for targeted groups of cohort students,
  • Counseling/advising services in terms of core curriculum, non-core curriculum, financial literacy, and college knowledge in assistance with GEAR UP staff,
  • Off-campus visits to college tours and/or college student shadowing, job site visits, and educational trips,
  • Summer intervention or bridge courses and summer camps/programs for college knowledge and readiness activities.

For Parents/Guardians:

  • Opportunities for college knowledge, college readiness, and financial literacy (in-person or virtual) workshops,
  • Opportunities to attend in-person college tours,
  • Opportunities to be part of parent councils and to attend conferences focusing on financial literacy,

For Teachers & Educators:

  • Opportunities for core content teachers for professional development services in effective pedagogy including for AP/IB courses, project- based learning, curriculum alignment, cooperative learning strategies, differentiated instruction, instructional scaffolding, classroom management and assessment tools aligned with STAAR,
  • Training in technology-related Instruction for Math & Science teachers using TI-Nspires, high-yield instructional strategies and data-driven processes and use technology and assessment tools in instruction,
  • Early College Curriculum training for ELA teachers,
  • Summer internships, job-embedded training, and Masters’ Program for targeted group of core content teachers,
  • Professional development training in school leadership and district administration for senior-level educators,
  • Opportunities for attending conferences and training focusing on college search, requirements, career pathways, financial aid and scholarships with assistance from TACAC, NACAC, and partner universities.