GEAR UP: Guiding Students Along the Path to Success


Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School


Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

GEAR UP is a federal program that follows students from seventh grade through their first year of college, preparing students for postsecondary education—especially those from low-income or underserved backgrounds. The program provides comprehensive college and career readiness support, from instruction on higher education options and career paths, to resources for families, to scholarships when students graduate. 

When Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a GEAR UP grant, program coordinator Laurie Mead knew it was an opportunity to help the 475 students in the program prepare for college and career success. She used a suite of ACT products and services to assist her in achieving this goal.

“There are so many skills you’re learning in the background when you’re studying with ACT.”

Laurie Mead, GEAR UP Coordinator

Mead explained that GEAR UP offers three main support systems: academic assistance, social and emotional learning, and college and career exploration. Because the suite of ACT products is so diverse, GEAR UP was able to use ACT resources to boost students’ learning, measure their progress, and provide support for noncognitive skills and career readiness, too. “ACT was a great partner in that process,” Mead said, noting that ACT helped her provide “every piece of the puzzle” when it came to the different kinds of support her students needed.

ACT Tools Used in Kennedy’s GEAR UP Program