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Wyoming Celebrates National GEAR UP Week

September 23, 2013

Wyoming this week celebrates the continuing success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a federally funded college access program providing students and families the support and resources they need for college success.

Since its inception in 1999, GEAR UP has improved educational outcomes for millions of low-income, minority and disadvantaged students across the United States. GEAR UP Wyoming, based at the University of Wyoming with participation from the state’s seven community colleges, served 2,252 students during the recent school year.

Wendy Martinez of Laramie is one of many success stories for GEAR UP Wyoming. She was enrolled in the Central Wyoming College GEAR UP Wyoming program all four years of high school. During that time, Martinez participated in many college-going activities and attend numerous college visits including Camp GEAR UP, which was held on the UW campus in 2011. Camp GEAR UP is an intensive summer program designed to provide GEAR UP Wyoming students an opportunity to experience college life.

Martinez credits college visits and Camp GEAR UP with increasing her awareness of college, and helping her understand the process of preparing for and getting into college.

“The biggest help (GEAR UP provided) was receiving exposure to colleges through college visits and help with my parents so they, too, would be able to understand the college process,” Martinez says.

Martinez, now a sophomore at UW, was chosen this past summer to attend the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. She was among only 30 GEAR UP Alumni Leaders throughout the nation selected to attend the leadership academy. Martinez is working with GEAR UP Wyoming to communicate the positive impact GEAR UP has on the college going futures of low income students like her.

“GEAR UP week is a time for us to reflect on what this program really has the power to do, give low-income students the resources they need to go to college," says Sara Whittle, GEAR UP Wyoming professional development coordinator. “The assistance students need often takes different shapes, but GEAR UP is there: from providing help in preparing for the ACT or applying for financial aid, to showing students a college campus and reassuring them they belong there. This week is the time to honor all those students who have been successful because of GEAR UP.”

For more information about GEAR UP Wyoming, contact Whittle at (307) 766-6736 or To learn more about the national GEAR UP program, contact the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships at (202) 530-1135 or

GEAR UP Wyoming is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $3.5 million annually with a matching amount annually provided by in-kind and scholarship contributions.

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