2011 Illinois Steps AHEAD/GEAR UP

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Family & Community 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.

Eligibility Criteria



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 Data SFY09 SFY10 SFY11
Program Expenditures (Numbers in 000's) $978.4 $997.2 $791.0
Number of Grantees 22 21 21
Number Served 1,914 1,693 1,581

Program Accomplishments

  • The ISA - Gear Up Participant and Parent Survey Report was published by the U of I - Center for Policy, Research and Development in the spring of 2011.
  • ISA Gear Up students participated in a 2-Day Student Leadership Conference.
  • Training opportunities were provided, in conjunction with the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD).
  • ISA Gear Up classes of 2011 were the first recipients of the ISA Gear Up scholarships. Sixty-nine (69) were distributed.