GEAR UP in Vancouver Public Schools
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programming—or GEAR UP—helps prepare young people to be academically, socially and financially prepared to go to college. The GEAR UP Scholars Project provides six- and seven-year grants to increase the number of disadvantaged students who are prepared to enter and complete postsecondary education.
GEAR UP began in Vancouver Public Schools in 2006 with a $1.8 million grant and 151 seventh-grade students at Discovery and Jason Lee middle schools. Funded at $300,000 a year for six years, the project provided mentoring, academic assistance and scholarship opportunities for the selected students. Ninety percent of the 79 students still active in the program in 2011 graduated from high school, and 87 percent of these graduates went on to college with a GEAR UP scholarship.
VPS received a second six-year grant in fall 2011, which targeted seventh-graders at Discovery, Gaiser and McLoughlin middle schools. The grant followed the students through their high school graduations in 2017 from Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay and Skyview high schools.
Washington state has awarded VPS another seven-year grant to support the class of 2023 at Discovery, Gaiser and McLoughlin middle schools. The grant will follow those students through graduation and into their first year of post-secondary education. The next grant cycle is anticipated to begin mid-September 2017, after it is fully funded by the Department of Education.
Carol Ann Jacobsen