Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, a federally funded grant, targets 6-12 grade schools that serve children of poverty. The purpose of the grant is to help provide structures and support for a rigorous, standards based curriculum that prepares students for post secondary education. Working with a cohort model that begins in sixth grade and ends when the students have completed twelfth grade, the GEAR UP Learning Center projects, through a school-university partnership, are broadly adaptive to the unique needs of individual schools and communities. The GEAR UP project is based upon a systematic focus on school reform, professional development, student/family support and community engagement in order to prepare students socially and academically for post-secondary education.
GEAR UP has demonstrated that with a small, temporary influx of additional per pupil expenditure, in combination with a clearly focused school-university-community partnership, children of poverty can achieve the same levels of high academic performance historically limited to their more advantaged peers. GEAR UP personnel work with school districts where the severity of the educational problems associated with children of poverty has been well documented: Toledo, Ohio and Kalamazoo, Bangor and Battle Creek, Michigan.