National GEAR UP week - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

National GEAR UP week

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Yakima, WASH.--Middle school students from around the Yakima Valley got a chance to rub elbows and learn from local business people Friday.

The University Of Washington's GEAR UP program is working with science and technology related businesses, like Regional Hospital and GE Aviation to get students interested in finding a career path.

GEAR UP just received a 7-year grant from the Department Of Education to mentor around 5,000 students from 13 school districts, and teach them proper business etiquette.

"Also, {we} want the business people to know that these students are the future of our community, and I think they know that," said GEAR UP Director Loueta Johnson. "It's very exciting to see the conversation start."

GEAR UP will receive almost $4 million every year until the grant ends in 2018.

Johnson said for the first time, mentors will now be able to track students progress through their first year in college.

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