District Leadership Institute (DLI)

Program Overview:          DLI Brochure

The NCCEP District Leadership Institute is an innovative program for the GEAR UP community that seeks to maximize the talent and leadership skills of district leaders serving GEAR UP students.

Over the course of ten months, the District Leadership Institute (DLI) initiates and engages a learning community of senior-level leaders in a profound learning experience focused on creating, sustaining, and strengthening the college-going culture in GEAR UP districts. The DLI examines the unique role of district leaders to leverage the impact that GEAR UP's federal resources provide in creating systemic change, with a resulting positive and sustainable impact on students’ college and career readiness.

DLI combines three in-person trainings (5 days total of professional learning), opportunities for cohort problem-solving discussions throughout the year, collaboration activities between GEAR UP program directors and district leaders along with the benefits of a tight-knit professional learning community to create high-leverage professional learning that builds capacity for leading a coherent college readiness strategy in districts of all sizes.

By participating in the DLI, your district’s senior leader(s) will:

  • Deepen the relationship with your district’s GEAR UP program team, resulting in data-driven results with a wider impact.
  • Increase the effectiveness of the district team in collaborating to implement a broad range of best practice strategies, approaches, and programs for at-risk students.
  • Reserve time to reflect on and analyze programs that work for creating a high-performing and sustainable college-going culture in your district.
  • Define and solve problems that hinder student success with a group of trusted colleagues.
  • Expand his/her national network of close colleagues, sharing ideas, questions, challenges, and successes through a guided series of cohort conversations.

All sessions will incorporate NCCEP’s national strategy of:

EXCEL - developing a mindset of continual improvement and equipping GEAR UP professionals with the skills necessary to maximize their programmatic impact. 

PROVE – ensuring that GEAR UP programs and professionals have the necessary skills, capabilities, and infrastructure to make informed decisions based on data, sound research, and evaluations. 

MOBILIZE – strengthening our collective voice to secure the long-term sustainability and growth of GEAR UP locally and nationally.

Program Faculty:

Two highly experienced and veteran GEAR UP partners will lead DLI:

Dr. Alan Ingram, is the former Deputy Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Superintendent of the Springfield Public School District, MA. Throughout his career in public education, he has served in a variety of roles focused on improving equity and access opportunities for all students.  Dr. Ingram also led the GEAR UP partnership grant for the Oklahoma City School District serving a dual cohort of over 5,000 students and their parents, across a variety of sites, including high schools and alternative education programs, in partnership with 7 higher education institutions, a career technology center and community agencies.

Dr. John Barker, former Chief Accountability Officer for Chicago Public Schools, has more than ten years of C-level experience in urban school districts and higher education providing innovative decision support to policy makers, district leaders, and corporate partners. Dr. Barker earned his Ph.D. in Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Barker was the GEAR UP program evaluator for Memphis City Schools when he served in that district.


DLI Tuition:

The tuition for the program is $5,000 per participant.  Given the issues to be addressed in the Institute, districts are encouraged to bring leadership teams of up to a maximum of three representatives.  While the makeup of districts may vary significantly by region, the program is intended for district “central” leadership, rather than school-based leaders.

Tuition fees do not include travel to the convenings, hotel accommodations, and other travel related cost.  GEAR UP programs can leverage the five days of professional learning their senior leaders dedicate to the program as match.

Participants are expected to commit to attending each of the five sessions when applying, and should reserve the in-person meeting dates listed below. Class sizes are limited to facilitate group learning. Participants will be accepted to the program on a first-come, first-served basis.

2018-19 DLI Convening Dates:

Each class will explore case studies, current research, and practical applications of strategic leadership, and how they can be leveraged as a leader, mentor, coach, and change agent to create and sustain systemic change.


July 16-17, 2018
Washington, D.C.

Arrive Sunday, July 15th by 5:00 pm
Depart: Tuesday, July 17th after 6:00 pm


February 11-12, 2019
San Antonio, TX

Arrive: Sunday, February 10th by 5:00 pm
Depart: Tuesday, February 12th after 6:00 pm


May 3, 2019

Arrive: Thursday, May 2nd by 5:00 pm
Depart: Saturday, May 4th


Click here to apply for the 2018-19 DLI program.

Deadline for applications is March 30, 2018.

We look forward to welcoming you to the program in July. Need more information?  Contact Betty Paugh Ortiz at NCCEP.


GEAR UP Program Locator

Are GEAR UP services available in your state or region? You can find out by clicking on this interactive map. Here you will find where GEAR UP programs currently serve students, the size of their grants, how many students they serve and a link to their website for more information.