What is GEAR UP?

According the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP), the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest and most effective programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in communities nationwide.

GEAR UP is a highly competitive grant program that helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals: (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students; (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families.

GEAR UP’s comprehensive approach encompasses:

  • Tutoring, mentoring, and other support networks
  • Building resiliency, capacities for self-efficacy, and leadership
  • Harnessing social-emotional learning
  • Engaging in academically rigorous coursework
  • Providing after-school and summer enrichment
  • PSAT and SAT test preparation
  • Focusing on opportunities in STEM
  • Exploring career pathways
  • Preparing for the college application and admission process
  • Identifying and mobilizing financial resources
  • Funding scholarships
  • Ensuring a successful transition to post-secondary education

As part of this exciting initiative stretching across the country, East Hartford is at the forefront – investing, preparing, and working for success in mobilizing GEAR UP’s comprehensive program for fostering college and career readiness.

This is East Hartford’s second GEAR UP grant award, part of a $25.8 million DOE grant awarded to the CT State Colleges and Universities system to lead three 7-year projects, including a partnership between NVCC and Waterbury Public Schools and another partnering MxCC and Meriden Public Schools in addition to the MCC-East Hartford alliance. After a successful 2012 program, East Hartford’s 8th grade class of 2026 will again GEAR UP as they build, grow, and move from middle school to high school and on to higher education.

Follow us, and engage with us as we make news, host events, and share information and resources.  #GearUpWorks

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About Benjamin Breault, GEAR UP Program Coordinator

Ben serves as the GEAR UP local project director, collaborating with EHPS faculty, staff, and administrators, managing the grant, designing and implementing programs, coordinating and providing services, and creating experiences and building relationships. Before GEAR UP, Ben served for almost thirteen years at MCC in Enrollment Services and Financial Aid, starting as an Office Assistant in 2008. Ben has a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College (VT). Since earning his master’s degree in English in 2015 at Trinity College (CT), Ben has also been teaching at MCC as an adjunct instructor in the Department of English, the Humanities, and Philosophy as well as in MCC’s First-Year Experience classroom. Ben is now pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership at Wilmington University (DE) in order to continue learning and growing as a leader serving students and their families in pursuit of higher education.

Questions? Email Ben at