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Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally-funded program through the U.S. Department of Education that was designed to help students prepare for and succeed in college. GEAR UP is a highly competitive grant program that helps empower local partnerships comprised of schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations.

Utah State University Science Technology Arithmetic Reading Students (USU STARS!) received its first GEAR UP seven-year grant in 2012, and has since been awarded three additional seven-year grants in 2015, 2017, and 2018. The program partners with schools in which at least 50 percent of the students enrolled are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. The program is cohort-based which means that it works with entire grade levels, and whole schools, starting in 7th grade through the first year of post-secondary education.

The USU STARS! GEAR UP program is part of the Center for the School of the Future in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at USU. Funding for USU STARS! GEAR UP totals around $64 million across all grants, providing direct services to nearly 13,000 students starting in 7th grade. With the program’s dollar-for-dollar cost share requirement, the total program investment into Utah’s schools will be $128 million. The program works to leverage local communities’ assets to enhance students’ academic achievement and college readiness in preparation for realizing their education and career goals.

USU STARS! GEAR UP provides services to support students, families, and schools, including:

  • Academic tutoring
  • Career exploration/advising
  • College campus visits
  • Summer programs
  • Comprehensive mentoring
  • Financial aid counseling/advising
  • Academic advising/planning
  • Educational field trips
  • College application/scholarship workshops

Students in participating schools receive these services to help them graduate from high school, as well as plan for and succeed in education or training after high school. Teachers receive professional development and resources to help students. Communities throughout Utah benefit from an educated workforce.