Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has proclaimed Sept. 20-24 as GEAR UP Week, which commends the continued success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
Northern Arizona University has led the Arizona GEAR UP program since 2000. The project has helped increase high school graduation rates, helped create a college-going culture and increased the college-going rate among Arizona students living in low-income communities. More than 15,000 students have benefited from Arizona GEAR UP in the past two decades.
The proclamation coincides with the celebration of National GEAR UP Week. Arizona GEAR UP is a federally funded program that aims to foster partnerships and collaborations between NAU, high schools in high-poverty communities and organizations throughout the state that are committed to enhancing education in Arizona. GEAR UP provides college awareness and readiness to students beginning in seventh grade, continuing through high school and into the first year of college.
“NAU’s mission is focused on student success, and that starts before our students set foot on our campus as freshmen,” said NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera. “Arizona GEAR UP has a long track record of implementing programs to address equity and access issues across our state, which not only help students living in underserved communities prepare for and excel in high school, but also to succeed in college and beyond. I am grateful for the recognition of this great program and NAU’s 20-year leadership of it.”
Current grant goals include:
- Increase academic performance and postsecondary preparation.
- Increase high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates.
- Increase educational expectations for students and increase knowledge of postsecondary options for students and their families.
In addition to $32 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Arizona GEAR UP receives a dollar-for-dollar match in services and resources from local and state partners. Additionally, through the financial commitment of Helios Education Foundation, Arizona GEAR UP provides every high school senior in 41 targeted Arizona schools a Senior Launch Guide, which helps students launch their postsecondary goals. The guide is available online in both English and Spanish. These partnerships leverage resources, build capacity and support grant priorities to help level the playing field in college access and attainment.
“With nearly a quarter of Arizona’s children living below the poverty line, the critical work that Arizona GEAR UP does to help increase access to post-secondary education for middle and high school students living in low-income communities is more important than ever because every child deserves equal access to postsecondary education,” said Ramona Mellott, dean of the College of Education and principal investigator of Arizona GEAR UP.