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

Federal GEAR UP Program: 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. 

The GEAR UP Program provides information about:

  • Ways to succeed  academically and socially in school
  • The importance of taking rigorous courses
  • Study Skills and Time Management
  • Financial Literacy
  • ACT Preparation
  • Differences between 2 and 4 year public and private colleges and universities
  • High School graduation requirements
  • Career Counseling
  • College Entrance Requirements
  • Financial Aid Resources

WEOP has defined 4 objectives to meet the goals of the State GEAR UP Grant:

  1. 100% of the students will be encouraged to enroll in rigorous academic courses for high school preparation, graduation, and college admission.
  2. 90% of the priority students will graduate from high school each year and 80% will continue their education beyond high school.
  3. 50% of the GEAR UP priority students and parents will increase their knowledge of college and career readiness.
  4. 75% of the school district staff who participate in professional development opportunities will increase their knowledge of college and career readiness.

Eligibility: 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:

  • Make a commitment to remain in the  program until they graduate from high school
  • Actively participate in scheduled activities
  • Have a desire to go onto college
  • Have a willingness to work hard academically
  • Follow the rules and policies of the federal program and WEOP agency

GEAR UP Scholarship: All students enrolled in the GEAR UP program may receive a college scholarship if they meet the following criteria:

  • Student is less than 22 years of age at the time of the award of their first scholarship
  • Student received a secondary school diploma or it’s recognized equivalent on or after January 1, 1993
  • Student is enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an accredited institution of higher education located in Wisconsin ( 2 or 4 year public or private college or university).
  • Student participated in the GEAR UP program while in middle or high school

The average scholarship award is between $2,000 and $3,000 and can be renewed for an additional 8 consecutive semesters of continuous enrollment.

Outreach Component: 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 . 

Parent Component: 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:

  • Tools for helping students succeed in school
  • The importance of students taking rigorous courses
  • Financial Literacy
  • High School Graduation Requirements
  • College admission process
  • Financial Aid Resources

Target Schools for GEAR UP:

  1. Ashland  Middle School
  2. Ashland High School
  3. Eau Claire Delong Middle School
  4. Eau Claire Northstar Middle School
  5. Eau Claire South Middle School
  6. Green Bay Edison Middle School
  7. Green Bay Franklin Middle School
  8. Green Bay Preble High School
  9. Green Bay West High School
  10. Madison Black Hawk Middle School
  11. Madison OKeefe Middle School
  12. Madison Sherman Middle School
  13. Madison East High School
  14. Milwaukee Cass Street Elementary
  15. Milwaukee Congress  Elementary
  16. Milwaukee Vieau Elementary
  17. Milwaukee Westside Academy
  18. Milwaukee Bayview High School
  19. Milwaukee High School of the Arts
  20. Milwaukee Riverside High School
  21. Milwaukee Alas High School
  22. Milwaukee Carmen High School
  23. Milwaukee Pulaski High School
  24. Milwaukee Reagan High School
  25. Milwaukee South Division High School
  26. Milwaukee Veritas High School
  27. Racine McKinley Middle School
  28. Racine Jerstad Middle School
  29. Racine Gilmore Middle School
  30. Racine Horlick High School
  31. Racine Park High School
  32. Wausau  Horace Mann Middle School
  33. Wausau John Muir High School
  34. Wausau DC Everest Middle School
  35. Wausau East High School
  36. Wausau West High School
  37. Wausau DC Everest High School
  38. Eau Claire Memoria High School
  39. Eau Claire North High School
  40. DC Everest Jr. High School
  41. Milwaukee Rufus King High School
  42. Milwaukee Vincent High School
  43. Milwaukee Thurston Woods Middle School
  44. Milwaukee Bradley Tech High School
  45. Green Bay Lombardi Middle School
  46. Green Bay Southwest High School
  47. Green Bay East High School

Application Process: 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. 

DPI-WEOP Student Application:

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