Idaho has been awarded a $23 million federal grant to continue the GEAR UP program to help prepare kids for higher education and add 6,000 additional students to the program. The state currently has just under 6,000 kids in its first class of GEAR UP participants, which started in 2006 with an $18 million grant; the program includes concerted efforts to ready students for higher education, starting in the 7th grade. The program is available to middle schools where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; the school districts apply to participate.
“Our goal is to ensure every student graduates from high school prepared to go on to postsecondary education, and once there, they will not need remediation,” said state schools Superintendent Tom Luna. “GEAR UP has proven to be a successful program in helping more students accomplish this goal, and I am proud we will continue this program in the coming years.” Signs of success in GEAR UP students include increasing academic achievement and taking more rigorous courses; schools, colleges, foundations and other groups provide matching funds or services to bolster the federal grant money. The acronym GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program.