In the News

GILBERT – Seventh grade students at Gilbert Middle School will have extra help preparing for college and career training programs thanks to a new “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP) initiative. The GEAR UP program focuses on helping students pursue education and training beyond high school, including trade certificate programs, two-year degree programs and four-year degree programs.

Students in this year’s seventh grade class (the class of 2020) will have the opportunity to participate in the program now through their first year of college or postsecondary study. The West Virginia GEAR UP program is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Over the next seven years, 50 West Virginia schools will participate in the effort.

“The GEAR UP program has been recognized nationally as one of the most promising pathways to increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter and achieve success in their education and training beyond high school,” Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said. “Our state’s future depends on the success of our future generations. We need more students enrolling in postsecondary programs and building their careers — and their lives — here in the Mountain State.”

GEAR UP will offer students the chance to participate in free college tours, academic workshops, tutoring, leadership development classes, career development activities, mentoring, financial aid workshops and college preparation summer academies. GEAR UP also will offer college-planning workshops for parents and provide training programs for teachers.

“One of the great things about GEAR UP is that it focuses not only on our kids, but also on their support networks,” Dr. Adam Green, the Commission’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said. “We work with families to show them that degree programs are available and affordable. The program also provides extra training for teachers, so they can better serve students in the classroom.”

To kick off the program Gilbert Middle School will host a “Welcome to GEAR UP” event on January 15, 2015 from 5pm to 6pm in the GMS auditorium. During the event, students and their families will be introduced to the Gear Up program, learn about upcoming events and get to hear students from Mingo Central High School share the success of the program. Refreshments will also be served.

Students, parents and family members are encouraged to attend to learn more about GEAR UP and college planning.

This marks the third time West Virginia has received a GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the second time the grant has been awarded to the Commission. Services under the Commission’s previous grant began in 2008 and will continue through July 2015. To learn more about West Virginia GEAR UP and view a list of participating middle and high schools, visit

The West Virginia GEAR UP grant is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. For more information about the state-level effort, contact:

Jessica Kennedy, Director of Communications and Outreach, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Division of Student Affairs, (304) 558-0655

Source: Gilberttimes