Michigan GEAR UP

Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (MI GEAR UP) is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing States and local community-education partnerships six-to-seven year grants to offer support services to high-poverty, middle and high schools.

The program serves at least one grade level of students, beginning no later than the 7th grade, following them through high school graduation and their first year in college.  MI GEAR UP provides critical early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, academic preparation, financial education and college scholarships to improve access to higher education for low income, minority and disadvantaged first-generation students and their families.  MI GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college educational awards to low-income students.

The program mandates cooperation among K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, local and state education entities (i.e. Future Faculty Fellowship, Michigan College/University Partnership Program - MICUP, Morris Hood, Select Student Support Services - 4S), businesses and community-based organizations.  These dynamic partnerships are required to leverage local resources to match the federal investment dollar for dollar, creating a common agenda that more effectively facilitates the educational aspirations and attainment of students from low-income communities.


History                                                                                                                                                             The GEAR UP initiative was authorized by Title IV of the 1998 Amendment of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and was signed into public law (P.L.105-244) on September 29, 1998 by President Clinton.  In signing the law, the President remarked that:

Modeled on successful college access work (such as I HAVE A DREAM, Project GRAD, and several institutional and state system initiatives), MI GEAR UP was created to provide communities with a comprehensive, holistic and research-driven initiative to prepare low-income and minority students for higher education.

The legislation described the purpose of the MI GEAR UP project as encouraging education partnerships to:

  • Provide or maintain a guarantee of financial assistance to participating low-income students pursing postsecondary education.
  • Provide academic and co-curricular support services to students at risk of dropping out of school.
  • Provide students and families with information demonstrating the advantages of pursuing higher education, as well as options for financing higher education.

To ensure that MI GEAR UP merits continued federal financial support, the Secretary of Education provides Congress with performance data (as mandated by the Government Performance Results Act of 1993, (GPRA). These indicators are important to MI GEAR UP professionals as they define the reporting and evaluation mandates of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).


Mission                                                                                                                                                           MI GEAR UP’s mission is to provide an opportunity for underrepresented students to discover first hand, the potential of a college education and to expose students to the information, knowledge and skills they need to complete high school and prepare themselves adequately for college entry and success.


Goal                                                                                                                                                                  MI GEAR UP is a partner of Michigan’s 15 public higher education institutions, EduGuide, and the State of Michigan's Workforce Development Agency to target and provide college awareness programs and services to students and staff in 57 school districts and 81 school buildings throughout Michigan.