Program Name: GEAR UP

Location(s)/Contact Info:

35 Mt. Carmel Ave.
3rd Floor
Chicopee, MA 01013
(413) 612-0206


GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a program of the Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. administered in cooperation with the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and funded by the US Department of Education.

Approximately 2,000 students in grades 7-12 will be served at five participating sites in Springfield and Hoyoke, MA.  At each site, GEAR UP Advisors/Coordinators counsel middle and high school students on the importance of higher education while advising them to have high expectations, study hard, stay in school and take the correct courses to go on to college.

GEAR UP offers a wide range of services including: in or after-school tutoring, college and educational field trips, attendance and retention programs, faculty support/professional development, parent/guardian financial literacy workshops, MCAS, SAT and ACT preparation, assistance with the entire college and financial aid processes, career assessment, 9th grade transition programs, mentoring programs, and one-on-one advising.

All GEAR UP students are also eligible for a scholarship worth up to $1,000 which is renewable for four years.


GEAR UP uses both a cohort and pirority model.  For the cohort model, beginning in 2012-2013 all 7th and 8th grade students who attend a GEAR UP middle school are eligible for services regardless of income.  GEAR UP advisors will provide services to all of those students throughout middle school and into high school, provided they attend a GEAR UP high school.  Beginning with the senior class of 2013 GEAR UP advisors will also follow the students into their first year of college.

Service Area:

GEAR UP can only serve students at participating GEAR UP schools in Springfield and Holyoke.  The GEAR UP schools in Springfield are: Chestnut Accelerated Middle School, Duggan Middle School, Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, and the Springfield Central High School. The GEAR UP schools in Holyoke are: Peck School and Holyoke High School.