Madison East High School
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sometimes the best learning experiences come in the most unexpected of places. That’s what happened to Kevin, who became involved with the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR-UP). It introduced him to the Youth Leadership Board, where his fellow members decided to help tutor local elementary school children. Initially, Kevin was reluctant to participate as he felt he would gain more valuable experience from working with adults. However, being a mentor to the students taught him so much more than what he thought—everything from patience to problem solving as he helped children with reading activities. The experience inspired Kevin not only to be a role model for these kids, but for his younger sisters and people throughout his community. In fact, one day he’d like to work at a community center helping prepare teens for college. Kevin was a member of the National Honor Society, Honors Language Society and president of AVID/Tops. He also played junior varsity tennis and soccer and was a member of the Pre-Enrichment Opportunity for Learning Experience program. Kevin received the Service-E Pin for completing more than 50 hours of community service per year and GEAR-UP’s highest GPA and Program participation award. In addition, he was a Link Crew member and volunteered at Barnes & Noble, Sandburg Elementary School and a local food pantry.
GEAR UP (gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs), is designed to help low-income students succeed in secondary schools so that they graduate and go onto an institution of 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 federal GEAR UP Grant.
The mission of the GEAR UP program is to provide early intervention and college awareness programs and services to a total of 2,700 priority students in grades 6 through 12 in targeted schools/districts throughout the state.
WEOP has defined 4 objectives to meet the goals of the State GEAR UP Grant:
Students must qualify for free or reduced meals and attend targeted schools ( grades 6-12) in the following school districts: Ashland, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Wausau, and DC Everest. Counselors, teachers, school administers, agency staff, or parents may refer students for enrollment and self-referrals will also be considered. There is no cost to the students and all major expenses are covered by the federal GEAR UP grant.
Participants in the program are expected to:
All students enrolled in the GEAR UP program may receive a college scholarship if they meet the following criteria:
The average scholarship award is between $2,000 and $3,000 and can be renewed for an additional 8 consecutive semesters of continuous enrollment.
GEAR UP also provides college access services to an additional 400 high school juniors and seniors in non-targeted schools throughout the state. These students can also receive a GEAR UP scholarship.
WEOP staff provides workshops, training, and /or programs designed to provide opportunities for parents to obtain the skills needed to help their child have positive educational experiences. Workshop topics include:
Students interested in enrolling in the GEAR UP Program must complete a WEOP application form and submit it to the WEOP office closest to where their hometown is located or contact their local WEOP office with questions.
WEOP has seven statewide offices: Ashland, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Wausau.
The GEAR UP program is a multi-year commitment to the students of Multiplex North, Northwest, Custer, Pulaski and South Division High Schools. Starting with 6th and 7th grade in 2005-06, we will follow those students through high school graduation and provide them with academic support and advising that will better prepare them for high school and ultimately college.
GEAR UP also strives to expose students and their families to college campuses and increase their knowledge of post-secondary options, available financial aid and scholarships, high school courses needed to enter college and other entrance requirements. In addition, GEAR UP strives to facilitate target school teachers' participation in professional development programs.
Students in the 10th and 11th grade and who are attending Custer, Northwest Secondary, North Multiplex, Pulaski and South Division high school are eligible to participate. Students are eligible if they attend one of the target schools and are in 10th and 11th grade this year. An application/parental consent form should be completed to fully participate. Please see your GEAR UP advisor at your school ( Custer, Northwest Secondary, North Multiplex, Pulaski or South Division) to complete an application. There are no fees for any GEAR UP service. GEAR UP is a federally funded program.