GEAR UP North Carolina
The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) project is a national college access initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to participate in GEAR UP, a school must have a student body comprised of at least 50% free and reduced-price lunch enrollment. The federal goal of GEAR UP is to significantly increase the number of students in disadvantaged communities who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP has three program objectives:
- To increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education of participating students;
- To increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education of participating students; and
- To increase educational expectations for participating students and increase student and family knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.
The University of North Carolina System was awarded a seven-year grant in 2012 for GEAR UP NC to provide college access and readiness services. Since 2012, the grant has provided support to schools, students, and families to achieve the project’s goal and objectives. GEAR UP NC directly engages students in partner schools starting in the 7th grade year, providing these students with academic readiness and college access support over the course of their middle and high school careers. Since 2012, GEAR UP NC has also engaged 12th grade students in partner high schools with college application and financial aid application support.
GEAR UP NC partners with the College Foundation of North Carolina, ACT Inc., the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the State Education Assistance Authority for statewide dissemination of college information. GEAR UP NC is included in the University of North Carolina System Higher Expectations Strategic Plan as a strategy for promoting and improving access to higher education in North Carolina.