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GEAR UP students from Roxborough High School participating in the AVID program

Now, more than ever, getting an education beyond high school is critical for upward social and economic mobility, as well as improved health, civic engagement, and overall well-being. Postsecondary education is also key to preparing our future workforce for the fast-changing demands of our economy. In September 2009, with funding from the US Department of Education, the School District of Philadelphia launched a seven-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant to help prepare low-income youth for success in college and careers. The initiative brought together a strong network of partners and schools committed to improving the educational outcomes of Philadelphia public school students in 26 middle schools and seven high schools.

From the start of the initiative, Metis partnered with the School District of Philadelphia to conduct an evaluation of the program’s implementation and outcomes. Through a mixed-methods evaluation, we continuously assessed the initiative’s progress towards its goals and objectives, and documented effective practices, challenges, and lessons learned from this important work.

The culminating impact study used a rigorous quasi-experimental design, comparing the outcomes of GEAR UP students to similar non-participating students in the district. Encouraging results show that GEAR UP has had a positive, significant impact on high school graduation and college enrollment for participating students, representing the culmination of a comprehensive college and career readiness initiative for low-income youth attending high poverty Philadelphia schools.

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