The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) State Grant is a seven- year federal initiative designed to increase early college awareness, readiness, and success for low-income and historically underrepresented students. The grant follows a cohort of students starting in 7th grade through their first year of postsecondary education. Nationally, GEAR UP outcomes have shown positive student gains for participating students (e.g. students graduate from high school at a higher rate than their peers - regardless of ethnicity or income - and attend college at a higher rate). For more information about the federal grant program, visit the Department of Education’s GEAR UP homepage.

What is Texas GEAR UP:  Beyond Grad?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA), as the governor-appointed agency to apply for the state grant in Texas, was awarded a GEAR UP state grant for the period of 2017-2024.  The Texas GEAR UP:  Beyond Grad Program is working with approximately 10,000 students from six Texas independent school districts (ISDs), including 12 middle schools and high schools, in rural communities in West Texas, Southeast Texas, and the Coastal Bend.  The criteria for selecting these schools included a high economically disadvantaged student population (total average 81.32%) and located in a rural or semi-rural community.  The GEAR UP districts include:  

School District Region Middle School(s) High School

Culberson County-Allamoore ISD


Van Horn School

Van Horn School

Education Service Center 19 with San Elizario ISD


Ann M. Garcia-Enriquez Middle School

San Elizario High School

Mathis ISD

Coastal Bend

Mathis Middle School

Mathis High School

Sinton ISD

Coastal Bend

E. Merle Smith Middle School

Sinton High School

Sheldon ISD


C.E. King Middle School,

Michael R. Null Middle School

C.E. King High School

Cleveland ISD


Cleveland Middle School

Cleveland High School

Who does Texas GEAR UP serve?

Texas GEAR UP provides targeted services to two specific cohorts of students.  The Primary Cohort consists of students who were in Grade 7 during the 2018-19 school year.  This Primary Cohort will receive services through their first year of postsecondary education (i.e., through the 2024-25 academic year).  The Priority Cohort of students consists of all other students in Grade 9-12 attending the district high schools during each year of the seven-year grant (i.e., from school years 2018-19 to 2024-25).  

What are the Texas GEAR UP Program Initiatives?

Through the Texas GEAR UP:  Beyond Grad Program, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will expand students' preparation for college and career through multiple interrelated initiatives: 

  1. Promote early understanding of career opportunities and pathways by developing high-quality, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-aligned curriculum and instructional materials for middle school educators and students; 
  2. Increase student access to individualized college and career advising though enhanced training and professional development for district staff and strategic partnerships with community organizations; 
  3. Develop and pilot an Effective Advising Framework (EAF) to offer districts a blueprint for developing and continuously improving a coordinated, high-impact, CCR Advising Program. 
  4. Ensure access to a portfolio of high-quality tools and resources that support the work of college and career advisors with resources for students, parents and educators.

Who are the Texas GEAR UP Program partners?

Technical Assistance Partners

College & Career Advising Partners

Legislation and Rules

Legislation and rules guiding GEAR UP can be found below: 

  • Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 2, Chapter 2
  • 34 CFR 694.21 - outlines required activities (outside source) 
Contact Information

Michael Willard
GEAR UP Program Manager