2008 Illinois Steps AHEAD (GEAR UP) Fact Sheet

Illinois Steps AHEAD (Attaining Higher Education through Academic Development)
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)

Bureau of Youth Services and Delinquency Prevention
Division of Community Health & Prevention
Illinois Department of Human Services

Program Description


Illinois Steps AHEAD serves an entire cohort of eligible low income students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follows them through high school graduation.


The goal of the program is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. 


Illinois Steps AHEAD services include tutoring, college visits, ACT/SAT preparation, career exploration, job shadowing, and parent involvement activities. An individual learning plan is developed for each student with teacher and parent input. Parents also participate in family events, college visits, counseling sessions, and workshops for college preparation. IDHS has established a trust fund that will enable the program to provide scholarships to eligible youth upon completion of the program.

Delivery Method

The program is being implemented in connection with the Department's Teen REACH program and the Illinois State Board of Education's 21st Century Learning Center.

Program Data

Program Expenditure (Numbers in 000's) $309.1 $1,003.8 $1,422.7
Number of Grantees 21 21 21
Number Served 937 1,920 2,100

Program Effectiveness

  • Developed and executed the 2nd annual Student Leadership and Professional Development Conference at the University of Champaign-Urbana with over 200 participants.
  • Provided survey administration and programmatic training, in conjunction with the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) to community providers.
  • Provided technical assistance and monitoring to 21 programs regarding programmatic requirements.
  • Collected annual performance data and surveys from ISA Gear Up providers.
  • Developed and distributed ISA Gear Up best practice models (eCornerstone), curriculums and resources when appropriate.
  • Developed promotional and incentive materials for recruitment and retention of students (e.g., student planners, scholarship policy, flyers).