What is GEAR UP?

GEAR UP is a grant-funded program through the U.S. Department of Education that stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.”

The Utica and Rome GEAR UP programs provide services to all current eighth and ninth grade students in the Rome City School District and ninth grade students in the Utica City School District, and follows them through high school graduation and their first year of college.

GEAR UP also focuses on preparing its students for college and the workplace by teaching them skills including critical thinking; communication; information, technology, and media literacy; initiative; and productivity. 

Gear Up students

That all students are academically, socially, and financially prepared to enter and complete the postsecondary program or institution of their choice. We believe that young people who start planning in middle school have a better chance of entering college and completing their degrees. 

  • Increase academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education.
  • Increase high school graduation and postsecondary participation rates.
  • Increase students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and finances
  • Mentoring
  • Tutoring
  • Cultural Enrichment
  • Financial Aid Information
  • College and Career Planning
  • Parental Support Groups
  • STEM Enrichment
  • College and Educational Field Trips
  • Community Service Opportunities


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Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can be in GEAR UP. We service current eighth and ninth grade students.

There is simply no application at all. If you are interested, please contact us and we will provide all the information.

It is a cohort program, meaning we are supporting students from current eighth and ninth grade until they graduate from high school (graduation years 2024 and 2025, respectively).

 GEAR UP is FREE. We are a discretionary grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Meet the GEAR Up Team


Todd Kubica
GEAR UP, Director
tkubica@mvcc.edu | 315-731-5827


Saingghech Ung
GEAR UP, Coordinator
315-792-5689 | 315-334-7783


Steffani DiPierro
GEAR UP, Program Specialist
sdipierro@mvcc.edu | 315-334-7754


Delvin Moody
GEAR UP, Program Specialist
dmoody@mvcc.edu | 315-334-7749

 Office Locations

MVCC Utica
1101 Sherman Drive, Utica, NY 13501 (AB 130C)
1101 Floyd Avenue, Rome, NY 13440 (PC 121G)

Service Locations 

Rome Free Academy, Room 2204
Strough Middle School, Room 202