The public investment in GEAR UP, a federal program that seeks to promote college access and readiness among underserved youths, and limited research on program outcomes substantiated a need to evaluate GEAR UP's impact on youths attending a major urban community college. This study analyzed the archival dataset of Latino community college students (N = 91) to determine the impact of GEAR UP on college access and readiness. The treatment group (N = 47) consisted of a student cohort who attended a GEAR UP participating secondary schools from 2005 through 2011, and the non-treatment group (N = 44) of a similar student demographic cohort who attended the same secondary institutions but not GEAR UP. The research variables included the English and math placement levels, financial aid application status, and cumulative grade point average of both cohorts. The result of a Pearson Chi Square test (p = .045 at 95% confidence level) demonstrated a statistically significant impact of GEAR UP on the financial aid application filing status among Latino youths but not the other variables. Personal interviews (N = 24) were conducted from the Treatment Group sample to determine the effectiveness of various interventions activities of GEAR UP. The textual coding analysis of the interview transcripts highlighted the presence of tutors and mentors, field trips, and financial aid workshops as effective interventions in promoting school belongingness and helping Latino youths to consider the benefits of higher education. The research study conclusions yielded several recommendations to further enhance the quality of GEAR UP. First, policymakers should consider expanding the scope of GEAR UP from financial aid awareness into financial literacy. Second, GEAR UP school coordinators, teachers, and tutors and mentors should intensify a focus on college readiness, including the development of non-cognitive skills. Other notable recommendations to enhance GEAR UP would be to provide more funding for tutors and mentors, college field trips, and financial aid workshops, improve collaboration and communication between high school and college partners, and the creation of a national database system to track student and program outcomes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; College preparation programs; Federal aid to higher education -- United States; Hispanic Americans -- Education (Higher)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;