College – it’s not just a dream, it’s a plan

Everyone should have the opportunity to go to college. GEAR UP and RISE UP support schools in Washington State to set high academic expectations, promote early awareness of college opportunities, and engage low-income students and their families in college and career planning.


Part of a national effort to help students from low-income families prepare for and succeed in college, GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The project helps students start planning in middle school for success in college.

At a glance

  • Working in 86 school districts around the state of Washington
  • Serving 27,000 students from underserved schools
  • Funded primarily by the federal government and state appropriation
  • A partnership of the Washington Student Achievement Council, Office of the Governor, the University of Washington, College Success Foundation, and a number of national, state and local organizations
  • Offering professional development for teachers and summer institutes for students at the University of Washington


RISE UP (Rural Initiative in STEM Education and Undergraduate Preparation) is a partnership program with the GEAR UP Project to support rural, agricultural-based communities with high populations of Hispanic, Native American, and/or limited English-speaking students. With poverty rates of over 80% these schools suffer low academic achievement, graduation, and college enrollment rates.

At a glance

  • Concentrated in thirteen rural school districts in Washington state, in the Yakima, Skagit, and Klickitat counties
  • Serving 4,955 students from 2011-2018, beginning in the 6th/7th grades into their first year of college
  • Increasing college readiness through a rigorous STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum and year-round enrichment activities, instructional support and tutoring, SAT preparation, STEM career-related field trips and visits to college campuses
  • Using Project Lead The Way curriculum for engineering and biomedical sciences
  • Providing parents with important information on college entrance requirements, the application process, and financial aid
  • Providing teachers with ongoing STEM curriculum training and professional development

Where We Are

UW RISE UP Map green