GEAR UP State Directors Roster

State grants are competitive six-year matching grants that must include both an early intervention component designed to increase college attendance and success and raise the expectations of low-income students and a scholarship component.

For the most recent list of state GEAR UP grants, click HERE (updated Jan 2013).
For a complete list of new GEAR UP awards FY 2012, click HERE.
For a complete list of FY 2011 awards, click HERE.

Grantee: The Regents of the University of California
Director's Name: Shelley Davis State: California
Telephone Number: (916) 551-1757
E-mail Address:

The goal of this grant is to: To develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a systemic network of support for adults who influence middle school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders, and families. This expanded organizational capacity is expected to result in a higher proportion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that historically have not pursued a college education, enrolling and succeeding in higher education.


Grantee: Colorado Department of Higher Education
Director's Name: Scott Mendelsburg
Telephone Number: (303) 866-4032
E-mail Address:

The Colorado Department of Higher Education seeks to continue to service low-income students statewide through a seven-year GEAR UP III project that will take the same approach as Colorado's past successful GEAR UP I (1999-2005) and GEAR UP II (2005-2011) programs. It will use the priority model to select 6,800 students in low-income schools beginning in the eighth grade and provide mentoring, a college preparatory curriculum, financial literacy, a scholarship component, enroll students in early remediation interventions, provide the chance for students to utilize concurrent enrollment opportunities, require students to take rigorous course work to be college and postsecondary ready when they graduate from high school, assist in the college admission process, and create support mechanisms throughout students' first year of college.


Grantee: Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education
Director's Name: Malia Sieve
State: Connecticut
Telephone Number: (860) 947-1859
E-mail Address:

The seven-year Connecticut State GEAR UP project will serve 3,200 students attending twelve middle schools using the cohort of students approach, during middle school and through high school. The project will initially serve both sixth and seventh graders at the three target middle schools in Waterbury and seventh graders only at the target middle schools in East Hartford and New Haven. The program will also provide professional development to teachers in the schools and college awareness and financing seminars to parents.


Grantee: University of Hawaii
Director's Name: Angela Jackson
State: Hawaii
Telephone Number:      (808) 956-3250
E-mail Address:

Given the current gap between Hawaii's educational capital and the projected need for an educated workforce as well as the education achievement and completion disparities which exist between low- income students and their higher-income peers, GEAR UP Hawai ̳i (GUSTHI) seeks to increase the number of low-income students who enter into and succeed in college. GUSTHI's goal is to increase low-income students' awareness of, preparedness for, and enrollment in postsecondary education. Within that goal are four objectives: improve college and career readiness through early academic preparation, expand college-level learning opportunities for high school students, increase access to postsecondary options for every student, and increase postsecondary enrollment and successful first- year completion. These objectives form the foundation of GUSTHI's strategic framework for directly addressing the college-access needs of Hawaii's low-income students, thereby eliminating gaps and increasing college completion.


Grantee: Idaho State Department of Education
Director's Name: Carina Davio
State: Idaho
Telephone Number:      (208) 332-6944
E-mail Address:

GEAR UP Idaho will implement statewide services and support to address financial, social and landscape barriers that Idaho students face on their path to postsecondary education. GEAR UP will work to improve statewide efforts to increase student achievement, address high school graduations rates and ensure successful entrance and completion of postsecondary programs. Academic Preparation, adoption of rigorous standards, increased capacity for data use, collaboration among stakeholders, and promoting systemic change in Idaho schools are the guiding factors for Idaho project design. Each element reflects research-based indicators for postsecondary success and completion, and justification for service selection. Main elements of project design will be supported by direct services to GEAR UP schools and students and evaluated by specific and measureable performance objectives.


Grantee: General Government Cabinet
Director's Name: Yvonne Lovell
State: Kentucky
Telephone Number: (502) 573-1555
E-mail Address:

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the applicant organization for GEAR UP Kentucky (GUK) 3.0 requests $26,922,000 over a six-year funding cycle to implement Kentucky's third statewide project to increase the number of low-income students who graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary education.


Grantee: Massachusetts Board of Higher Education System
Director's Name: Robert Dais
State: Massachusetts
Telephone Number: (617) 727-9420
E-mail Address:

This project will serve 7,250 students over seven years, including low-income priority students and five cohorts across seven of the Commonwealth's most impoverished areas: Boston; Holyoke; Lawrence; Lowell; New Bedford; Springfield; and Worcester. Target middle and high schools have poverty rates as high as 93 percent percent, and most of the largest are categorized as persistently lowest achieving State Improvement Grant (SIG) schools.


Grantee: Michigan Strategic Fund
Director's Name: Rudy Redmond
State: Michigan
Telephone Number: (517) 335-5950
E-mail Address:

The King Chávez Parks (KCP) Initiative on behalf of the State of Michigan is requesting U.S. Department of Education funding through Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) to provide educational preparedness and college awareness to nearly 10,000 low-income, underrepresented students in 49 school districts throughout the state.


Grantee: Minnesota Office of Higher Education
Director's Name: Mary Lou Dresbach
State: Minnesota
Telephone Number: (651) 259-3940
E-mail Address:

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is the governor-designated 2011 agency for the state's GEAR UP grant. Building on the agency's extensive experience and past successful GEAR UP projects, the agency proposes a project designed to achieve our goal to increase the percentage of graduates from low-income backgrounds that enroll in postsecondary education. Our objectives are to increase the academic performance of GEAR UP students, improve the college preparation of students to ensure postsecondary success, increase high school graduation rates and postsecondary participation rates, and improve student/parent knowledge and perceptions about postsecondary preparation and financing. Measurable outcomes to determine progress and impact include projected increases in state test scores, GPA, math course completion, attendance, graduation, PLAN/ACT test participation, FAFSA completion, and demonstrated knowledge of available financial aid and the cost/benefits of postsecondary education.


Grantee: Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
Director's Name: Sandy Merdinger
State: Montana
Telephone Number: (406) 444-0317
E-mail Address:

Project's Goals and Objectives: GOAL 1 – Increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education of GEAR UP students: Objective 1.1 - Increase student academic performance in mathematics; Objective 1.2 - Increase student demonstration of academic preparation for college. GOAL 2 – Increase the rate of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education for GEAR UP students: Objective 2.1 - Increase graduation rates of GEAR UP students from high school; Objective 2.2 - Increase postsecondary enrollment rates of GEAR UP students. GOAL 3 – Increase GEAR UP students' and their families' knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing: Objective 3.1 - Increase student knowledge of available financial aid and the costs and benefits of pursuing postsecondary education; Objective 3.2 - Increase family knowledge of available financial aid and the costs and benefits of pursuing postsecondary education.


Grantee: New Jersey Commission on Higher Education
Director's Name: Glen Lang State: New Jersey
Telephone Number: (609) 292-6190
E-mail Address:

New Jersey's GEAR UP State Project will focus on 40 middle and 18 high schools in eight of the state's most distressed communities: Atlantic City; Bridgeton; Camden; Jersey City; Newark; Paterson; Pleasantville; and Trenton. The average median household and per-capita incomes of the target municipalities are 55 percent percent and 38 percent percent respectively, of the statewide medians. The most recent unemployment rates are 65 percent percent higher than the statewide rates.


Grantee: Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
Director's Name: Jolynn S. Horn
State: Oklahoma
Telephone Number:      (405) 225-9376
E-mail Address:

Oklahoma GEAR UP will provide a statewide priority student model GEAR UP program to 23 of the highest need, lowest performing school districts in the state, providing services to 20,170 middle and high school students who face many service, infrastructure and opportunity needs: lack of college and career readiness; student achievement gaps; lack of access to rigorous college preparation courses; high student/guidance counselor rates; low awareness of career paths associated with bachelor's degrees; low college-going rates and college persistence rates; low enrollment in the state scholarship program; lack of parent knowledge about higher education opportunities and processes; and lack of financial aid and application assistance.


Grantee: Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education
Director's Name: William Formicola
State: Rhode Island
Telephone Number: (401) 854-5506
E-mail Address:

The goals of Rhode Island GEAR UP (RI GEAR UP) are to increase: (1) participants' academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education; (2) high school graduation and postsecondary rates of participants; and (3) participant and family educational expectations and knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing. We have established 14 objectives to achieve these goals. These include increasing the number of participants passing Algebra 1 by the end of ninth grade, increasing the number of tenth grade students who take the PSATs, increasing student scores on standardized tests (NECAPs), and other important indicators of success. RI GEAR UP is a six-year program that will serve 3,500 priority students in grades 6-12 in the four urban districts with the highest concentration of need in the State: Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket.


Grantee: South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
Director's Name: Karen Woodfaulk
State: South Carolina
Telephone Number: (803) 737-2706
E-mail Address:

South Carolina GEAR UP (SCGU) will provide a broad range of intensive programs and services to 24 targeted schools: Whale Branch Middle, Johnakin Middle, Lee Central Middle, Haut Gap Middle School, Robert Smalls Middle, Palmetto School, Loris Middle, Carver-Edisto Middle, Colleton County Middle, Creek Bridge Middle, Scott's Branch Middle, C.E. Murray Middle, Ridgeland Middle, Williams Middle, Clay Hill Middle, Hemingway Middle School, Hardeeville Middle, Spaulding Jr. High, St. George Middle, Kingstree Jr. High, Estill Middle, Darlington Middle, Military Magnet Middle, JV Martin Jr. High.


Grantee: South Dakota Department of Higher Education
Director's Name: Roger Campbell
State: South Dakota
Telephone Number:      (605) 773-3783
E-mail Address:

This grant application proposes a promising program, called the GEAR UP South Dakota program (GUSD), which aims to significantly increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. This is an important mission for the State of South Dakota, as significant educational disparities continue to exist between Native American and non- Native students in the State.


Grantee: Utah Valley University
Director's Name: Laurie Miller
State: Utah
Telephone Number: (801) 863-6567
E-mail Address:

Major Partners Providing 107-116 percent Average Annual Cost-Share Matching Support: Higher Education Partners; Weber State University (WSU); Salt Lake Community College (SLCC); Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah (USU-CEU); Northern Utah Region Salt Lake County, South Central Utah. Other State, Community and School District Partners San Juan Foundation/ San Juan School District; West High School, Salt Lake City School District; East High School, Salt Lake City School District; Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA); CoBro Consulting; LLC; Rural; remote school district; Urban/inner-city school district; Urban/inner-city school district, State scholarships and grants; Student database and evaluation.


Grantee: Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
Director's Name: Linda Shiller
State: Vermont
Telephone Number: (802) 655-9602
E-mail Address:

Vermont State GEAR UP Program (VSGU) has been in existence since 1991, providing needy students and schools throughout the state with a comprehensive range of services. Vermont was one of only nine states to host the National Early Intervention Scholarship Program, a national model that the GEAR UP state grants were built upon. Our success is in large part due to the enormous support from our sponsoring organization, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), which has earned a national reputation and has been committed to statewide college access services for over 40 years. VSAC was created as a public, non-profit agency to help all Vermonters, especially those with limited means, with the information and resources needed to pursue education beyond high school. In addition to Vermont State GEAR UP, three other statewide college access programs are administered by VSAC: Vermont Talent Search, EOC and the College Access Challenge Grant. This arrangement has provided an excellent opportunity for collaboration, and well-coordinated, cost effective services throughout the state.


Grantee: Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board
Director's Name: Weiya Liang
State: Washington
Telephone Number: (360) 753-7884
E-mail Address:

The Washington State GEAR UP (WA-GU), as administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, brings 12 years of successful experience as a past grantee. WA-GU facilitates strategic partnerships to leverage funding and resources that provide direct, early intervention services to students in high-need schools to help them prepare for, and succeed in, higher education. Our vision is that all students are academically and financially prepared to enter and complete postsecondary education. We focus on students who are underserved and underrepresented, and believe that starting in the seventh grade gives them a better chance of enrolling in, persisting through, and completing in a postsecondary degree program. WA-GU supports schools in building personalized relationships with students to fuel student aspirations for college and provides the academic supports needed to support high student achievement.


Grantee: Department of Public Instruction
Director's Name: Kevin Ingram
State: Wisconsin
Telephone Number: (414) 227-4413
E-mail Address:

Governor Scott Walker has designated the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Program (WEOP) as the state agency to apply for the GEAR UP grant in the amount of five million dollars annually for six years. The program will enroll and provide direct services to 2,700 middle and high school priority students in the school districts of Ashland, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Wausau, and DC Everest as well as 400 low- income students from across the state in need of additional assistance with the college and financial aid application process.


Grantee: University of Wyoming
Director's Name: Judy Trujillo
State: Wyoming
Telephone Number: (307) 766-6169
E-mail Address:

GEAR UP Wyoming (GUWY) is a state grant that will serve a minimum of 2,000 students statewide each project year, including first-year college students and students still in the pipeline from the 2005 grant. The University of Wyoming is the lead agency and will partner with all seven Wyoming community colleges and the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE), which are the original eight partners from the 2005 GEAR UP grant. Partners' continued willingness to collaborate with GUWY demonstrates their strong history of commitment and ongoing support. All have submitted letters of commitment for the next grant cycle. GEAR UP Wyoming uses a state priority-student model to serve students across the state in grades 7-12 who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. Student and parent services will be provided by GUWY staff located at offices on each community college campus in Wyoming. These offices will impact approximately 101 of 154 secondary schools in the state, 23 of which are designated by the U.S. Department of Education as persistently lowest- achieving schools. GUWY's partnership with the WDE will focus on statewide initiatives including the Wyoming Comprehensive Literacy Plan, the implementation of Common Core State Standards and college and career-readiness benchmarks, and professional development for teachers, administrators, instructional facilitators, and summer school staff.


Grantee: Northern Arizona University
Director's Name: Teena Olszewski
State: Arizona
Telephone Number: (602) 776-4616
E-mail Address:

Arizona GEAR UP (AZ Gear UP) replicates the successful GEAR UP student cohort model implemented in 40 of Arizona's neediest schools over the past decade, and it adds a project component that significantly improves, by 2017, the college and career readiness of three-fourth of the state's low-income, middle grade students. At the same time, AZ GEAR UP III leverages key initiatives of the U.S. Department of Education, the Arizona Governor's Education Reform Plan, and the Arizona Board of Regents' Vision 2020 Plan by building capacity within communities and statewide to strengthen family/parent engagement and augment secondary school resources, so that more students are well prepared for college and careers.


Grantee: Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education
Director's Name: Malia Sieve
State: Connecticut
Telephone Number: (860) 947-1859
E-mail Address:

The proposed, seven-year Connecticut State GEAR UP project will serve 3,200 students attending twelve middle schools using the cohort of students approach, during middle school and through high school. The project will initially serve both 6th and 7th graders at the three target middle schools in Waterbury and 7th graders only at the target middle schools in East Hartford and New Haven. The program will also provide professional development to teachers in the schools and college awareness and financing seminars to parents.


Grantee: Nevada Department of Education
Director's Name: Charlotte Curtis
State: Nevada
Telephone Number: (775) 687-9243
E-mail Address:

The 2011-2018 Nevada State GEAR UP application is a collaborative effort among the Nevada Department of Education (NDE), Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), Office of the Governor, Office of the State Treasurer, and diverse stakeholders, including parents/families, students, agency representatives, and businesses (e.g., Wells Fargo Nevada, AT&T, American College Testing (ACT), College Board, Nevada Public Education Foundation, Texas Instruments). NDE, as lead agency and fiscal agent, will direct the project implementation with its partners.


Grantee: New Mexico Higher Education Department
Director's Name: Chandler Barrett
State: New Mexico
Telephone Number: (505) 476-8424
E-mail Address:

GEAR UP New Mexico (NM), administered through the New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED), is requesting $33,884,140 and has secured 104 percent in matching funds of $35,356,521 for this proposed seven-year, statewide priority-select program that will implement research-based practices significantly impacting student learning and school improvement in the following district paired schools: Pecos Middle School/High School; Tse Bit Ai MS/Shiprock HS; Los Alamitos MS/Grants HS; Coronado MS/ HS; San Diego Riverside MS/Walatowa HS; Jemez Valley MS & HS; Los Lunas MS & HS; Ortiz MS/Capitol HS; Garcia MS/Mora HS; Penasco MS & HS; Red Mountain MS/Deming HS, and Cochiti MS/Santo Domingo MS/Bernalillo HS.


Grantee: University of North Carolina General Administration
Director's Name: Melissa Caperton
State: North Carolina
Telephone Number: (919) 962-3355
E-mail Address:

Project Goals and Objectives: 1.1: Increase the percentage of students taking and successfully completing Pre-Algebra by the end of 8th grade. 1.2: Increase the percentage of students taking and successfully completing Algebra I by the end of 9th grade. 1.3: Increase the percentage of students taking and successfully completing two years of math beyond Algebra I by the end of the 12th grade. 1.4: Increase the percentage of students who have knowledge of and demonstrate necessary academic preparation for college. 1.5: Increase the percentage of students who enroll in college without the need for remedial coursework. 2.1: Decrease the high school dropout rate. 2.2: Increase the high school graduation rate. 2.3: Increase average daily attendance rates at middle schools and high schools. 2.4: Increase the percentage of students who apply, enroll, and succeed in college. 2.5: Increase the percentage of students who are on track to graduate from college. 3.1: Increase students' and families' knowledge of postsecondary education financing. 3.2: Increase families' active engagement in assisting students with academic preparation for college.


Grantee: Tennessee Higher Education Commission
Director's Name: Wendy Tabor
State: Tennessee
Telephone Number: (615) 741-3605
E-mail Address:

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) proposes the following state grant project for the 2011 Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs competition. The proposed project, entitled GEAR UP Tennessee (GEAR UP TN), uses experience-based knowledge and college access and success foundation to build on the successful 2005 state grant and advance Tennessee's unique education reform efforts.


Grantee: Texas Education Agency
Director's Name: Kristen Reynolds
State: Texas
Telephone Number: (512) 463-8254
E-mail Address:

For many of Texas' historically underserved students and their families, the pathway to higher education presents a number of complex challenges. Texas GEAR UP is designed to provide intensive services and support for economically disadvantaged campuses in targeted areas, as well as resources for educators, students, parents and communities throughout the state. The project will ensure that students are aware of postsecondary options, graduate from high school academically prepared, complete the higher education and financial aid application process, and enroll in college with the informed support of their parents and communities.