GEAR UP Program

Program Overview

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federally funded grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and career readiness. VU GEAR UP is currently serving nine school districts and thousands of underserved students in the state of South Carolina.

Voorhees University GEAR UP provides a seven-year partnership grant to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort throughout high school and possibly through the first year of college. GEAR UP funds are also used to supply college scholarships to low-income students and their families by providing high-quality educational opportunities to help them embrace collaboration, problem-solving, and working through their creative processes.

Voorhees GEAR UP is a comprehensive, research-based project designed to fill gaps in school programs, meet the needs of low-income students and families, raise achievement, improve graduation rates, increase college enrollment, and prepare our youth for successful careers and their future roles as productive, adult members of society.

Program Purpose

GEAR UP prepares students to be academically, socially, and financially ready to enter and complete a postsecondary education and prepare for a career of their choice. GEAR UP’s three objectives are:  

  1. To increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education of participating students.
  2. To increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education of participating students.  
  3. To increase educational expectations for participating students and increase student and family knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.

Benefits to Students and Families

GEAR UP prepares students to be academically, socially, and financially ready to enter and complete a postsecondary education and prepare for a career of their choice. GEAR UP’s three objectives are:  

  1. To increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education of participating students.
  2. To increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education of participating students.  
  3. To increase educational expectations for participating students and increase student and family knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.

Contact Us

Tiffany Leaf

Tiffany Leaf

GEAR UP Project Director

(803) 780-1052
tleaf@voorhees.edu

Danesha Vickers

Danesha Vickers

GEAR UP Associate Director

(803) 780-1059 dastocker@voorhees.edu

Aretha E. Langston


Aretha E. Langston

GEAR UP Administrative Coordinator

(803) 780-1085
alangston@voorhees.edu

Yata Tobin


Yata Tobin

GEAR UP Data Manager

(803) 780-1082
ytobin@voorhees.edu

Graduation Coaches

Tarea Grimes-Mason
Allendale-Fairfax Middle
803-293-5208
tgmason@voorhees.edu

Laquisha Hopkins
Estill/ North District Middle
803-942-3068
lhopkins@voorhees.edu

Quierra Johnson
Sandy Run/St. Matthews K-8 Middle
803-308-0784
qjohnson@voorhees.edu

Latoya Morrison Chester Middle 803-984-1182 
lmorrison@voorheees.edu
Sonya R. Stephens
Colleton County Middle
843-909-4991 sstephens@voorhees.edu
Alexandria Tobin Bamberg-Ehrhardt/ Denmark-Olar Middle 803-300-3966 atobin@voorhees.edu
Kelvin Wilson
Williston-Elko/ Macedonia Middle
470-753-7894
kwilson@voorhees.edu
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