School GEAR UP Programs

Montana GEAR UP schools receive a sub-grant from the state office to implement their plan and services. Utilizing school specific data, each school evaluates their unique strengths and develops an implementation plan of services connected to GEAR UP goals. To maximize the benefit and effectiveness of GEAR UP, a local school management team consisting of at least a school administrator, counselor, GEAR UP liaison, core content teacher, student, parent, and SIG personnel (if applicable) will develop the school's tailored program in collaboration with the Montana GEAR UP school grant manager.

  GEAR UP School GEAR UP Liaison Contact School Website
  Arlee Public Schools Misty Brien e: | p: 726-3216 ext: 2305  
  Box Elder Public Schools Meghan Maroney e: | p: 352-4195 ext: 5132  
  Browning Middle School Nathan Stone e: | p: 338-2725 ext: 4921  

Browning High School

Melanie Magee


  Hardin Middle School LaDona Yerian e: | p: 665-6343  
  Hardin High School Lance Olson e: | p: 665-6406  
  Harlem Public Schools Crystal Doney e: | p: 353-2289  
  Hays Lodge Pole Public Schools Paul Condon

e: | p: tbd

  Lame DeerPublic Schools TBD e: TBD | p: 477-8901 ext: 1217  
  LibbyPublic Schools  Deanna Malyevac e: | p: 293-8802 ext: 1951  
  Lodge GrassPublic Schools Tena Three Irons e: | p: 639-2736  
  PryorPublic Schools Talitha Goes Ahead e: | p: 259-7329  
  Rocky BoyPublic Schools Sapphire Carter e: | p: 395-4474 ext: 223  
  St. IgnatiusPublic Schools Alan Pule e: | p: 745-3811ext: 265  
  St. Regis Public Schools Jennifer Pruitt e: | p: 649-2311  
  SuperiorPublic Schools Toni Labbe  e: | p: 822-3600 ext: 117 School page
  Thompson FallsPublic Schools Penny Beckman e: | p: 827-3593 ext: 7069  
  TroyPublic Schools Jessica Knapp e: | p: 295-4520 ext: 2126  

GEAR UP is an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The purpose of GEAR UP is to help students prepare for some form of post-secondary education after high school graduation. GEAR UP has three main objectives. 1. To prepare students academically to take college level classes without the need for remediation. 2. To increase high school graduation levels and college enrollment. 3. To increase parents’ and student’s knowledge of post-secondary options, including affordability.

GEAR UP exists in a school to create a college going culture. It helps teachers, students, and parents or caregivers nurture the desire to aim higher. It helps students of all abilities understand that their future financial wellbeing depends on graduating and pursuing further education that will help them have a career of their choosing. This means every student can be encouraged to develop their job skills whether it is through a trade school, certificate program, or getting a 2-year or 4-year degree.

GEAR UP schools are concentrated in the poorest, most ethnically diverse, and the lowest performing communities in the state. Montana GEAR UP uses a cohort model, meaning it provides services to students in 7-year cycles, starting when students are in 7thgrade, providing supports through their first year in college.  GEAR UP selects schools once every seven years based on the most current conditions statewide. Criteria for selection include having a very high percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, poverty, and unemployment rates. Unfortunately, Montana GEAR UP does not add new schools in the middle of a grant cycle and will do its next review in 2024.

The kinds of services GEAR UP provides in a school are locally decided based on a school’s situation. However, all expenditures must align with the three main objectives. The goals are: 

  1. To prepare students academically to take college level classes without the need for remediation. To help meet this objective GEAR UP funds services like dual enrollment classes, STEM exploration, academic assessments, academic competitions, robotics and drone classes, as well as professional development for teachers.
  2. To increase high school graduation levels and college enrollment. To help meet this objective GEAR UP funds services like academic tutoring and remediation, orientations for students entering 7th and 9th grade, college application week, and senior portfolios.  
  3. To increase parents’ and student’s knowledge of post-secondary options, including affordability. To help meet this objective GEAR UP funds services like career fairs, academic advising that helps parents understand what their student needs to do to be college ready, financial literacy, FAFSA assistance, campus visits, and hosting college student panels.

GEAR UP funds cannot be used to pay for anything the school district is required to provide due to licensing, state or federal regulations. It can supplement what a school is doing, but not supplant. GEAR UP funds cannot be used on anything deemed entertainment, career and technical education supplies, or that targets only one student. Requests must be reasonable, allowable and allocable. Commonly supported expenditures include technology beyond the school’s ability to support (robotics, chrome books, other equipment), software licensing to help students get caught up, campus visits, etc.

Each school is required to have a GEAR UP liaison and a local GEAR UP team. The team sets priority services based on an analysis of students’ academic performance, school needs, and leveraging of resources.

If you would like to help GEAR UP at your school, volunteer to be a local team member, help with GEAR UP activities, talk with students and their caregivers about why education is needed after high school. Display posters that encourage students to graduate and pursue higher education. Invite guest speakers who can talk about how their education is used in their career. Find creative ways to use assignments to help students connect classroom learning with higher education. 

Talk to students about how your education has helped you in life. Help them understand how to afford college. Encourage them to use tutoring, to take harder classes, and make yourself available to answer their questions. One caring adult can make all the difference. Students beyond the top 5% of academic performers can successfully obtain a college education. One sentence of belief can inspire a student to aim high.


School/Administrative Resources


Calendar DOWNLOAD - due dates, professional development opportunities, events & more. Scroll down for LIVE Calendar 


 Educator Survey

District Resources

EdReady - Designed to prepare students for upcoming local math or English classes, revisit possible gaps in general math skills, become better prepared for college math or English, practice math skills needed for a desired career path study and review math concepts for a standardized exams.

How to Support your GEAR UP Liaison


Info on the MUS Arc of Events

Outline of Montana with red flags ascending from right to left on a snow covered mountain

The Montana University System Arc of Events is a college

preparatory initiative promoted by the OCHE and GEAR UP. 

Events include:

  • APP: College Application Week
  • AID: FAFSA & Financial Aid Nights
  • ACT: Decision Day

Contact 449-9139 to learn more about how your school can get involved!

GEAR UP Schools Map

Scroll over the blue labels to view liaison contact information. Tribal Colleges listed with a maroon icon.