MERCER COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — September 25, 2023 through September 29, 2023 is National GEAR UP Week, and five school districts and 22 schools are celebrating.

The week celebrates the success of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). GEAR UP is a college access program that is provided by the U.S. Department of Education and that helps provide students and their families with the support and resources they might need for college access and success, and it also offers a variety of opportunities to students including college campus visits, summer camps, and more.

Celebrations for National GEAR UP Week started weeks ago in the region with yard signs in Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, and Wyoming counties at schools that are part of the program and community places that support the program, that read “I love GEAR UP SWV” with hashtags #gearupswv and #gearupworks.

Since it was established in 1999, the GEAR UP program has helped improve educational outcomes for millions of United States students, and GEAR UP SWV currently supports over 3,600 students. GEAR UP SWV staff will be celebrating 2023’s National GEAR UP Week by visiting five counties starting on Monday, September 25, 2023 in Wyoming County for the “What is up, GEAR UP SWV Regional Tour.” Parents and guardians who have 7th and 8th graders in public-school are welcome to come to the What is up, GEAR UP SWV events on September 25, 2023 through September 27, 2023, and October 3, 2023 and October 4, 2023.

These events are not the only ones that are planned, schools in the counties involved will also have their own activities planned to celebrate. Students at Road Branch Elementary will be able to participate in “Student Selfie Days”, the students at this Wyoming County school can dress for daily college and career themes next week. These activities will help encourage students to think about their future and success.

While at the events, parents and guardians can learn more about the GEAR UP program and the resources that it will provide to the students and schools over the next six years, and they can also meet GEAR UP SWV team members that will be working with the students. The event will also give parents and guardians the chance to learn more about postsecondary options for students, and what GEAR UP SWV can do to help students reach their goals. Students that attend will also be entered in a drawing to win a STEM prize.

The “What is up, GEAR UP SWV Regional Tour” starts in Wyoming County on Monday, September 25, 2023 at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Gilbert and at One Voice One Cup in Oceana, WV. On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the GEAR UP SWV team will be in Mercer County at The Loft at 1123 in Princeton, in Summers County at the McCreery Hotel in Hinton on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at the Lindside Methodist Church Social Hall in Monroe County on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, and the tour will end on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 in Raleigh County at The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center in Beaver.

Those who attend the event can arrive anytime between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and can attend the event at a location that works with their schedule, and it does not have to be in the county where the student goes to public school. Dinner and supervised activities for any attending students will be provided.

GEAR UP SWV is managed by Concord University, together with the New River Community and Technical College, and many other community partners. More information about GEAR UP SWV can be found here, on their social media pages, or by contacting Kristen O’Sullivan, Director of the GEAR UP SWV program, at 304-384-5278 or by email at