What is GEAR UP?

West Virginia GEAR UP is a federally funded program that helps students in eleven counties prepare to succeed in education and training beyond high school. “GEAR UP” stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” and the program’s goal is to help more students pursue their dreams of earning a college diploma or skillset certificate.

West Virginia GEAR UP is managed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission), in collaboration with the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, the West Virginia Department of Education and many other community partners.

The GEAR UP program operates on seven-year cycles. The Commission is administering its third consecutive GEAR UP grant, which began in 2021 and will conclude in 2028.

What does GEAR UP do?

GEAR UP provides many free activities and services to help students and their families plan, apply and pay for education and training beyond high school. Examples include:

  • college campus visits and tours
  • tutoring
  • credit recovery classes
  • ACT/SAT test preparation workshops
  • academic day camps and workshops
  • financial aid workshops
  • college prep summer academies
  • college exploration and preparation workshops
  • career academies
  • leadership academies

Additionally, GEAR UP is a key partner in offering statewide activities and resources, including:

Finally, GEAR UP also provides training and resources to counselors and educators to help further develop a supportive college-going culture in schools and communities.

Where is GEAR UP available?

Schools participating in West Virginia GEAR UP’s 2021-2028 grant program are listed below.

Who can participate?

GEAR UP offers extra support to two groups of students and their families:

  • Students in the classes of 2027 and 2028 who are graduating from participating high schools can participate in GEAR UP from their seventh grade year all the way through their high school graduation.
  • All 12th grade students graduating from participating high schools between 2022 and 2028 can participate in GEAR UP during their senior year.

At times, GEAR UP may offer activities and services to other students, depending on funding regulations and availability.