In the News

Gov. Jay Inslee has honored a Central Washington University program designed to increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in college.

Gov. Inslee has proclaimed Sept. 21-25 as GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Program) Week.

CWU’s GEAR UP program specifically targets low-income high-school students in the Brewster, Chelan, Easton, Highland, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Quincy, Tonasket, Richland, and Wenatchee school districts.

“We start with students in sixth and seventh grades and follow them through to their first year of college,” said Tracy Plouse, CWU’s GEAR UP director. “All students receive career and college admissions counseling, along with financial aid counseling from our site directors and university staff.”

The program involves: Moving Our Students Academically In to College and Careers (MOSAIC2), which serves 2,200 10th and 11th grade students; and Success and Opportunity through Affordability, Relevance, Rigor and Relationships (SOAR3), which involves 3,300 more students in the seventh and eighth grades.

Students participating in the program get opportunities for:

·      Tutoring and additional academic assistance;
·      College field trips, including to CWU;
·      College and career exploration; and
·      Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities, camps, and competitions— including some focusing on robotics—led by university faculty, students, and staff in Ellensburg and at participating schools.

“This summer, we also held our first Jump Start Summer College on campus,” Plouse said. “We hosted 59 high school students, who had just completed the ninth and 10th grades, on campus for four weeks for which they each earned seven college credits. Central professors taught them the same classes that they teach to their college students. This was a tremendous success.”

Those credits were in biology, computer science, and mathematics.

“We also offer professional development for teachers,” Plouse added. “Through GEAR UP, we can sponsor those looking for master’s degrees, endorsements and certificates, as a way to increase the number of highly-qualified teachers in these districts.”

CWU has been the recipient of four GEAR UP grants since 2002 written in partnership with the Northwest Learning and Achievement Group of Wapato. At CWU, Plouse works with Kelley Quirk, and Marla Weidenaar, who provide administrative and program support for CWU’s GEAR UP initiatives.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

Source: Central Washington University