GEAR UP – which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – is a federally-funded program that works to address systemic barriers to postsecondary success and career options for students and families. Through a competitive process, awardees receive six- or seven-year grants to provide services designed to meet this challenge.

We work to empower the communities we serve and eliminate barriers by expanding successful programs and partnerships to serve middle and high school students and their families.  


GEAR UP 4 LA earned its first federal grant in 2011, followed by a second grant in 2014, third and fourth grants in 2018, and the fifth grant in 2020 – with total financial power in aggregate of $110.6 million.

Our Impact

Our work has a direct impact! Higher levels of participation in GU4LA services such as counseling, college visits, and workshops were consistently associated with higher college enrollment.


Following a cohort model, we work with the same groups of students starting in sixth grade, guiding them through middle and high school, and providing them support in the first year of their postsecondary journeys.

In partnership with a variety of community-based organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education, our team of dedicated coordinators, counselors, advisors, and family engagement staff provides GU4LA students with academic counseling, financial aid education, mentoring, college visits, exposure to careers, and social-emotional support. 

As a result, students who stay in the program longer have higher rates of college enrollment and graduate from high school with more knowledge about their postsecondary options.

The ability to be a peer mentor to other GEAR UP students is amazing. As time goes by, I see how some of the students I mentor become mentors themselves and that is rewarding.

GEAR UP guided me through from middle school through college. They are always supporting students, making sure they get their college application done correctly, and helping with the FAFSA and any scholarships.

After 6 years with the program, I have one word to describe my experience as a parent and volunteer: FANTASTIC!

Creating connections with the parents is amazing! To make them believe that it is possible for their children to go to college, it is so powerful!

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