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GEAR UP Kentucky

Twenty-six percent of Kentucky's student population lives in poverty. GEAR UP Kentucky, a federal grant program coordinated by the Council, works with students and schools in low-income communities to support college preparation and success.

Why Kentucky needs GEAR UP

By 2020, 63 percent of Kentucky‚Äôs jobs will require a college degree, yet the chances of students from low-income households enrolling and succeeding in college are low. These students, many of whom have parents or guardians who have not attended college, tend to be underprepared academically, financially or socially.

GEAR UP, a federally-funded program, works to foster a sustainable college-going culture in schools with more than half its student population eligible for the free/reduced lunch program. Kentucky's implementation, directed by the Council, serves 29 middle schools and their corresponding high schools to help more than 10,000 students prepare, apply and pay for college.

How GEAR UP works in schools

More than 40 GEAR UP College and Career Advisors are placed in GEAR UP schools to deliver curriculum and academic advising. GEAR UP classes focus on building success skills such as time management, test taking, personal finance, and college and career planning. The program offers college campus visits throughout the year and multiple, three-week residential summer academies on university campuses to expose students early to college life. GEAR UP also provides professional development and technical assistance to school leaders and teachers to ensure school policies and classroom practices support college readiness and success for all students.

How GEAR UP benefits Kentuckians

GEAR UP helps students prepare academically, financially and socially for college success. The number of GEAR UP students meeting benchmark scores on college readiness assessments consistently increased between seventh and ninth grade and the gap between GEAR UP students and all Kentucky students closed in three of four subjects between eighth and 10th grade. Additionally, the percentage of GEAR UP students reporting college options and how to prepare increased an average of 24 percentage points between middle and high school.

How GEAR UP helps us toward 2025 goals

Lower levels of academic, financial and social preparation are barriers to college access and success for many students in low-income communities. Early awareness and ongoing support is crucial to overcoming these barriers. To address these needs long-term, GEAR UP focuses on building a college-going culture in Kentucky schools and communities that will sustain beyond the life of the grant.

Statewide Impact of GEAR UP KY


Learn more about Kentucky's education goals by viewing Stronger By Degrees, the Council's strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education.

Last Updated 12/9/2016