Step Up Campaign


The Step Up Campaign was a statewide initiative that promotes college and career readiness for Hawai‘i’s high school students.

During the 2005 grant, GEAR UP supported a new Hawai‘i Board of Education (BOE) policy to increase the rigor of the BOE Recognition Diploma (BOERD) in Hawai‘i public schools. GEAR UP supported the BOERD’s implementation through The Step Up Campaign and created a pledge program to encourage Hawaii’s high school students to take the rigorous coursework.

Approximately 14,000 students at low-income schools statewide in the graduating classes of 2013-15 have pledged to earn the BOERD and enrolled in the “Step Up Scholars” program.

GEAR UP supports these Step Up Scholars by providing them resources that will prepare them for college and career. Multiple channels, including mail, email, and social media, are used to inform Step Up Scholars and their parents about the benefits of attending college, notify them of upcoming local college and career preparation events, and refer them to other college access opportunities. GEAR UP also facilitates Step Up Scholars’ participation in college visits and educational field trips to explore postsecondary life, as well as presentations by professors and community members, allowing both students and parents to better understand the importance and attainability of postsecondary education.

One of the key successes of the Step Up campaign has been the ability to raise awareness about the importance of a rigorous high school curriculum. In September 2011, the board overwhelmingly approved a single college and career ready diploma for ALL high school students starting with the Class of 2016.  

The Step Up Campaign ended with the Class of 2015. Promising results show that the graduating classes of Step Up Scholars earned the BOERD at a higher rate than compared to the statewide average. In addition, Step Up Scholars enrolled in college the fall after graduaton at a higher percentage than HIDOE students statewide.