Urban Studies Senior Seminar Papers

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Sillanpaa, Kellen. "'Show up and hope': GEAR UP in an Urban High School." University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies Program. 2018.


This research explores the factors that contribute to or detract from the success of college access programs in urban high schools through a case study of GEAR UP at a Philadelphia school. Programs like GEAR UP have real potential to help prepare students for college, but there is a need for stronger program evaluation. First, this study uses existing literature to create a framework for evaluating program effectiveness; this framework is then applied to a GEAR UP program in Philadelphia. Then, the study analyzes the factors that affected GEAR UP’s implementation at the high school. This article determines that the program was not implemented successfully because of competition with other similar programs and because of a lack of collaboration between program partners. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for both the School District of Philadelphia and other large urban school districts.


urban education, college access, GEAR UP, education policy, college readiness



Date Posted: 26 June 2018