2009 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) $232.8 $994.9 $1,315.2 $978.4
Number of Grantees 21 21 21 22
Number Served 937 1,920 1,739 1,914

Note: In FY 09, two new Gear Up providers picked up the service areas of a former Gear Up provider.

Program Effectiveness

  • The ISA - Gear Up Participant Survey Report was published by the U of I - Center for Policy, Research and Development in the Spring of 2009.
  • Two "Putting Research into Practice" briefs were published in 2009.
  • The 2nd annual Student Leadership and Professional Development Conference was held at the University of Champaign-Urbana with over 200 participants.
  • Survey administration and programmatic training opportunities were provided, in conjunction with the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD).
  • Provided technical assistance and monitoring to 21 programs regarding programmatic requirements.
  • Collected annual performance data and surveys from ISA Gear Up providers.
  • ISA Gear Up best practice models, curriculums and resources are distributed to providers when appropriate.
  • Promotional and incentive materials for recruitment and retention of students (e.g., student planners, scholarship policy, flyers) were developed and distributed to providers.