GEAR UP Hawai’i

Gear Up Hawaii

GEAR UP Hawai‘i is a $22 million, seven-year matching grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education (2011-18) with the mission to significantly increase the number of low-income middle and high school students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college. The program is made up of a consortium of partners including the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, the University of Hawai‘i System and community partners. Between 2011 and 2018, GEAR UP Hawai‘i will provide services to nearly 21,000 students statewide. The program inspires hope and improves futures by increasing Hawai‘i’s students’ access to and success in higher education.

GEAR UP Hawai‘i’s
strategies address four key areas of needs related to students’ preparation for entering and succeeding in postsecondary education. Below are examples of some of the work that GEAR UP Hawai‘i is doing in each of the areas.

1. Improve college and career readiness through early academic preparation

summer students

GEAR UP Hawai‘i supports over fifteen summer bridge programs in 2016 to build academic preparation, college and career readiness skills, STEM enrichment, and transition support from middle to high school and high school to college. Programs served the following schools: Dole Middle, Central Middle, Hilo High, Honoka‘a Intermediate and High, Jarrett Middle, Kaimuki High, Kalakaua Middle, Nanakuli Intermediate and High, McKinley High, Waianae Intermediate, Waipahu Intermediate, Washington Middle, Hawai‘i Community College, UH Manoa, and
UH West Oahu.

2. Expand college-level learning opportunities for high school students.

GEAR UP Hawai‘i supports the Early College High School Program with twelve high schools statewide, designed to allow more high school students to earn six or more college credits before they graduate from high school. With the support of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, GEAR UP Hawai‘i is investing more than $1.2 million of resources to fund tuition and expenses and provide technical assistance to selected high schools working in partnership with University of Hawai‘i campuses, to provide high school-based early college courses. Since the program kicked off in Fall 2014, schools have offered a total of 37 courses, and the number of courses offered has increased exponentially over the last year and a half. In a Fall to Fall comparison from the first year to the second year of the program, the number of courses offered at participating campuses grew by 260%, from five courses in Fall 2014 to 13 courses offered in Fall 2015. In total, 467 students have participated in at least one dual enrollment course in Spring, Summer, or Fall 2015 or Spring 2016.

3. Increase access to postsecondary options for every student

This Spring GEAR UP Hawai‘i coordinated a college tours for 24 students from Farrington, Hilo, Kaimuki and Waiakea high schools. The students had the opportunity to visit eleven college campuses in the Pacific Northwest. Each visit consisted of a campus tour and presentation from Admissions representatives about requirements, campus life, financial aid, and student support services. As part of their participation in the college tour, these high school students presented to their classmates what they learned and how the college tour experience helped them become college and career ready.

4. Increase postsecondary enrollment and successful first-year completion

CommonCore Poster_v8

GEAR UP Hawai‘i created a stronger alignment between high school and postsecondary education, with the introduction of a three-year pilot program in which Smarter Balanced assessment scores of Hawai‘i’s 11th grade public school students can be used to enroll directly into entry-level college courses at all of the ten University of Hawai‘i campuses starting in Fall 2016. The Smarter Balanced placement policy pilot program applies to the graduating classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018.

For more information on GEAR UP Hawai‘i and its other initiatives, please go to