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Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a national college readiness program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The grant hopes to deepen its efforts with school districts and community organizations to make college a reality for more middle and high school students in the state.  

Mission Statement:

GEAR UP believes every student in South King County should have access to higher education. Through GEAR UP, every student will have opportunities to participate in support programs during and after school, college and career exploration, and family engagement activities. Our GEAR UP staff will help each student develop a plan for after high school and hold them accountable to that plan.

We are here to provide you the tools and resources to overcome the obstacles to pursuing opportunities after high school.

You are here because you believe in your future and want to take advantage of every opportunity to make you successful with your goals for after high school.

What does GEAR UP do at McKnight? 

GEAR UP helps create activities and provides experiences to students and families. Some of these activities and experiences include school programs and clubs, meeting STEM professionals, tutoring, and learning opportunities like field trips and camps. 

The GEAR UP staff also finds ways to support teachers and other school staff to make sure all students are receiving support and opportunities to increase their success. 

GEAR UP Achievers Partnership

  • South King County school districts (Auburn, Kent, Renton and Tukwila)  


  • Current 7th (class of 2025) and 8th grade (class of 2024) at McKnight 
  • Program continues to Hazen or Renton and to their first year of college (ends September 2025) 
  • No defined time commitment – students can participate in any activity 

Closing academic achievement gaps   

  • Emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields   

Mentoring and a range of college-readiness activities:   

  • AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) classes 
  • Campus visits (UW, Highline, South Seattle, Bellevue, Renton Tech)  
  • Tutoring and academic workshops  
  • Workshops for students and parents on financial literacy and post-secondary planning 
  • Leadership, career and summer activities 

Upcoming Field trips 

  • (All events temporarily postponed)


Jessi Traughber and Hong-Yen Chau

GEAR UP Coordinator 
Hong-Yen Chau 

UW GEAR UP Achievers

Tutoring Available

We have tutors to help all students after school on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:35-4:00 pm in room 425. All subjects welcomed! First come, first served. 

Tammy Akamine & Sharon Joshua

GEAR UP Tutors - Tammy Akamine and Sharon Joshua