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. Now that the entire cohort is in high school, we are required to service those students sitting in GEAR UP high schools, Acadiana High, Carencro High, Lafayette High, and Northside High. GEAR UP students who are not enrolled in GEAR UP high schools will still have the opportunity to attend some activities, but no activities will be provided on the non-GEAR UP campuses and priority scheduling will go the those students from the original cohort who are enrolled in those four high schools.

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 Cohort

The current GEAR UP cohort is comprised of approximately 3,000 students who are enrolled in GEAR UP schools. The cohort is comprised of students who were tagged in the 6th & 7th grades in six middle schools. In August of 2017, the cohort was expanded to include all 9th & 10th grade students enrolled in the four GEAR UP high schools. All students under the GEAR UP umbrella will receive services and support until the end of their freshman year in college. Students from the original cohort will receive priority scheduling for certain events and activities.


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
Megan Breaux
Megan BreauxData & Partnership Coordinator
Dawn Derouen
Dawn DerouenProgram Supervisor
Cy Dugas
Cy DugasCollege & Career Coach (LHS)
Aaron EstersCollege & Career Coach (AHS)

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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