Model & Strategy

The GEAR UP (GU) grant was awarded to Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in 2018 for a six-year grant period. This federally funded grant is serving just over 800 students in one cohort beginning in the 7th grade, initially attending four middle schools and matriculating into four high schools in the Grand Rapids and Michigan area. Services began approximately six months after the award was made during the 2018-19 academic year.

Our Impact

Vela is evaluating GRCC GU's effect on postsecondary intentions while providing feedback from students, parents, and educators via surveys.


Vela Institute is conducting the external program evaluation of GRCC GEAR UP using a mixed-method evaluation framework to:

  • Determine the extent to which GRCC GEAR UP increases postsecondary enrollment of cohort students
  • Meets objectives and performance measures stated in the GRCC GEAR UP awarded application
  • Assesses student, parent, and professional perceptions through surveys and focus groups

Vela’s participatory evaluation process includes the development of annual surveys, analysis of the relationship between services and outcomes, and support providing annual reporting to the U.S. Department of Education.

How Perceptions of College Accessibility Affect Students' Education Expectations

Insight: Students who reported "Knowing" they could attend college had the highest education expectations.