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

Purpose:  GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is designed to assist low income students succeed in secondary school so that they will graduate from high school and pursue higher education.    In 2011, Governor Scott Walker designated the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Program (WEOP) as the sole state agency to administer the GEAR UP grant. The GEAR UP grant is funded through the United States Department of Education.

Objectives:  The objectives of the program are listed below:

  • 100 percent of the students will be encouraged to enroll in rigorous academic courses for high school preparation, graduation, and college admission.
  • 90 percent of the priority students will graduate from high school each year and 80 percent will continue their education beyond high school.
  • 50 percent of the GEAR UP priority students and parents will increase their knowledge of college and career readiness.
  • 75 percent of the school district staff who participate in professional development opportunities will increase their knowledge of college and career readiness.
  • Other items that are measured are the number of seniors who complete the FAFSA and the number who have completed a rigorous course of study in high school.

  Program Features:

  1. 2,700 priority middle and high school students from eight target school districts must be recruited and enrolled.
  2. A priority student is a student that is receiving free or reduced price meals at time of enrollment in the program and is from a target school.
  3. Students between the grades 6-10 can be enrolled in the program.
  4. Students must receive free or reduced price meals at time of enrollment.
  5. Student must be United State citizens or nationals, permanent residents of the United States or students who can provide documentation from US Immigration of their intent to become a permanent resident.
  6. Students must attend a GEAR UP target school.
  7. Students are expected to participate and remain in the program until high school graduation.
  8. Outreach services to 45,000 students, parents, and school district staff to promote college accessibility, attainability, and affordability is also provided.
  9. The target GEAR UP schools include:

Ashland School District

Ashland Middle and High Schools

DC Everest School District

DC Everest Middle, Junior and Senior High Schools

Eau Claire School District

Delong Middle School, Memorial High School, North High School, Northstar Middle School, and South Middle School

Green Bay School District

East High School, Edison Middle School, Preble High School,  Southwest High School, Washington Middle School, West High School

Madison School District

Black Hawk Middle School, East High School, O’Keeffe Middle School, and Sherman Middle School

Milwaukee Public Schools

Barack Obama School of Career and Technology Education, Bay View High School, Bradley Tech High School, Carmen High School, Cass Street Elementary, Congress Elementary, Hamilton High School,  James Madison Academic Campus, Pulaski High School, Riverside High School, Ronald Reagan High School, Rufus King High School, South Division High School, Thurston Woods Middle School, Vieau Elementary, Washington High School, Westside Academy

Racine School District 

Gilmore Middle School, Horlick High School, Jerstad Middle School, McKinley Middle School, and Park High School,

Wausau School District

East High School, Horace Mann Middle School, John Muir Middle School, and West High School

Types of Services:

  • One-on-one academic, career or personal advising.
  • Instruction on topics that include study skills, importance of rigorous classes, picking the right courses to be successful in high school, college vocabulary, time management, financial literacy, types of degrees and colleges, scholarship searches, and/or writing a college essay.
  • Transition strategies from 8th grade to high school as well as from 12th grade to college.
  • College visits.

  • Cultural events.
  • ACT preparation.
  • College admission and financial aid application assistance.
  • Fee waivers for college admission applications and ACT registration.
  • Monitoring of grades, attendance, and homework completion.
  • Information and scholarships to attend a DPI precollege programs.
  • Consideration for the GEAR UP scholarship.

Funding:  Funding is secured through the Department of Education and is a six-year renewable grant in the amount of $5,000,000.  The grant must be matched dollar for dollar.  One half of the grant $2,500,000 must be used for the GEAR UP Scholarship.

DPI-WEOP Student Application:

WEOP has seven statewide offices: Ashland, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Wausau.