Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally-funded program designed to increase the number of students from low-income schools to be prepared to enter and succeed in college.

The San Jose State University GEAR UP Community Achievement Project (1999-2014) was a collaboration between SJSU's Department of Counselor Education, community partners, and local school districts serving low-income students to provide academic preparation and college and financial aid information to students and families to prepare them for high school graduation and college success. 


  1. To increase the academic performance and preparation for post-secondary education for GEAR UP students
  2. To increase the high school graduation and postsecondary college enrollment rates
  3. To increase students’ and families’ knowledge of higher education options and financial aid information 


GEAR UP collaborated with community partners to support schools and parents for student academic success and to build a college-going culture. Our community partners included:

  • After-School All Stars
  • AVID Program
  • California Youth Outreach
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education
  • San Jose/Evergreen Community College District
  • The Role Model Program
  • Cal-SOAP program
  • Alum Rock Union Elementary School District
  • East Side Union High School District
  • Franklin-McKinley School District
  • Mt. Pleasant Elementary School District

GEAR UP Project Schools included:

2008-2010 Middle Schools:

  • Burnett Middle School
  • August Boeger Middle School
  • J. W. Fair Junior High School
  • Fischer (Clyde L.) Middle School
  • George (Joseph) Middle School
  • Hoover Middle School
  • Mathson (Lee) Middle School
  • Ocala Middle School
  • Pala Middle School
  • Renaissance Middle School
  • Sheppard Middle School
  • Shirakawa Junior High School
  • Sylvandale Middle School
  • Windmill Springs Elementary School

Freshmen 2010-1014

  • Andrew Hill High School
  • Independence High School
  • James Lick High School
  • Lincoln High School
  • Mt. Pleasant High School
  • Overfelt High School
  • San Jose High School
  • Yerba Buena High School


To achieve our objectives, the project provided the following services and activities:

To improve academic performance and preparation for college:

  • After school tutoring center
  • Saturday academy
  • Summer school
  • SAT preparation

To increase high school graduation and college enrollment:

  • Individual counseling
  • Case management
  • Mentoring

To increase students’ and families’ knowledge of college and financial aid:

  • Parent workshops
  • Individual parent meetings
  • College workshops
  • College tours 


The GEAR UP evaluation design included assessing quantifiable outcomes and benchmarks for each year of the GEAR UP Project.  These benchmark improvements were included in each GEAR UP student’s Student Achievement Plan, a key tool used by staff and students in tracking the selection of courses and services to meet students' educational needs, enhance their capacity for more accelerated learning, improve their classroom achievement, provide standardized test scores, and assess ability to meet rigorous college entrance requirements. The methodology utilized in this project included collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to access the projects impact.

Project Results [PDF]