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               GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal initiative whose mission is to accelerate the academic achievement of cohorts of disadvantaged middle and secondary schools students so that increasing numbers will graduate from high school, enroll in college, and succeed. Applications are made by institutions of higher education and awarded annually. 
                Fairmont State College was the only higher education institution in West Virginia awarded this grant in 1999. They were awarded twenty-two (22) million dollars over a five (5) year period, and it was the largest grant awarded in the nation during this grant cycle. In conjunction with GEAR UP, Fairmont Sate College formed several partnerships: