About Lafayette GEAR UP

About Us 2017-09-12T14:36:17+00:00

GEAR UP: Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs

GEAR UP is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing States and local community-education partnerships six-to-seven year grants to offer support services to high-need, middle and high schools.

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Who We Serve

The Lafayette program serves two grade levels of students, which began with 6th and 7th grade students from 6 middle schools in the fall of 2014. The GEAR UP grant will utilize the available funding to provide support and resources to this group/cohort of students through high school graduation and into their first year of college. GEAR UP provides critical early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, academic preparation, financial literacy and career education to improve access to higher education for GEAR UP students and their families.

The program mandates cooperation among K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, local and state education entities, businesses and community-based organizations.  These dynamic partnerships are required to leverage local resources to match the federal investment dollar for dollar, creating a common agenda that more effectively facilitates the educational aspirations and attainment of students while creating a culture of collaboration which encourages the sustainability of successful programs facilitated through GEAR UP funding.

The GEAR UP Schools

The current GEAR UP cohort is comprised of approximately 2,300 students who are mainly enrolled in GEAR UP schools. The six middle schools were chosen because they had the highest percentage of free/reduced lunch in the district. The high schools were selected because the six middle schools feed into these high schools. When GEAR UP students were tagged, all students in the 6th and 7th grades in those middle schools were placed under the GEAR UP umbrella even if they did not meet the free/reduced lunch criteria. All students under the GEAR UP umbrella will receive services and support until the end of their freshman year in college.


The goal of the program is to establish partnerships and processes that help create a college going culture and put successful programming in place that becomes sustainable through community and business partnerships, thereby raising the academic culture and awareness of the community as a whole by informing and engaging all stakeholders.

Traci Aucoin
Traci AucoinProject Director
Rhonda Thornton
Rhonda ThorntonSecretary
Cathy Welch
Cathy WelchPartnership/Data
Dawn Derouen
Dawn DerouenCollege & Career Coach
Dana McIntyre
Dana McIntyreCollege & Career Coach
Kim Prejean
Kim PrejeanCollege & Career Coach
To Be Announced
To Be AnnouncedCollege & Career Coach

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What They Say

GEAR UP allows us to be a co-parent. We get to be that secondary support for 2,300 kids. We are able to watch them mature and grow into wonderful young men and women. We get to feel the joy of seeing them succeed and knowing that we had a part in making that happen.

Dana, Gear UP Staff

Cameron has really enjoyed himself and watching him this afternoon was a proud moment because he was really nervous about presenting and he did it with such confidence!! I was just blown away.

Stacy, Gear Up Parent

I wanted to apply for GUALA (GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy) so that I can advocate for others the way people advocated for me.

Jamila, GUALA Rep

The thing I liked most about the summer camps is that you get to learn and socialize at the same time.

Ishrant, Gear UP Student