GEAR UP students at a Boston Celtics Game

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)

GEAR UP is a VOC program administered in cooperation with Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities, Inc. (MassEdCo), the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Approximately 2,000 students in grades 8-12 are served at six participating sites in Springfield and Holyoke, MA.  At each site, GEAR UP Advisors/Coordinators counsel middle and high school students on the importance of higher education while advising them to have high expectations, study hard, stay in school, and take the correct courses to go on to college. 

GEAR UP offers a wide range of services including: in or after-school tutoring; college and educational field trips; attendance and retention programs; faculty support/professional development; parent/guardian financial literacy workshops; MCAS, SAT and ACT preparation; assistance with the entire college and financial aid process; career assessment; and 9th grade transition programs, mentoring programs, and one-on-one advising. 

All GEAR UP students are also eligible for a scholarship to be used for the first 2 semesters at a postsecondary institution.  Exact dollar amount is equal to the minimum Pell Grant.  


GEAR UP uses both a cohort and priority model. We anticipate welcoming a new 7th grade cohort in 2018.   GEAR UP advisors provide services to the cohort students throughout middle school and into high school, as long as they attend a GEAR UP high school.  For the priority model, students at a GEAR UP high school who meet the income-based eligibility requirements can enroll at any point prior to their senior year.  GEAR UP advisors will also follow the students into their first year of college. 

Captcha Code

(413) 437-2040
300 High Street, 3rd Floor
Holyoke, MA 01040

Click on the program name below to learn more about our other programs for youth: