GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA)


GUALA Announcements!

Applications for GUALA Class of 2015 are out!  

Are you a current or former GEAR UP student (or know of one) that is interested in becoming the voice of GEAR UP in your community?  Keep reading and apply to become one of the thirty selected to the GUALA Class of 2015!

Applications due:  April 4

Lear more about the GUALA Class of 2014, read the Alumni Leader Biographies.


HIP-HIP HOORAY! The GUALA Alumni Leadership Training in Washington, D.C. was a SUCCESS!

Our 30 Alumni Leaders from 22 GEAR UP States took on D.C. from June 22, 2013 to June 29, 2013 for a whirlwind of learning, advocacy, leadership, and adventure! CLICK HERE for an inside look on the 2013 GUALA Alumni Leadership Training (ALT) experience in our Nation's Capitol.

Congratulations to the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) inaugural class!

We are honored to share the names of the 30 GUALA Alumni Leaders selected to represent 22 GEAR UP states. GUALA Alumni Leaders will serve their GEAR UP community for a year of service dedicated to making positive change in education policy for younger generations. We look forward to embarking on this new journey with the help and support of GEAR UP Coaches, The Kresge Foundation, and the GEAR UP community. Thank you to the dedicated GUALA Application Review Committee who invested time and expertise to the difficult task of selecting the alumni leaders from a pool of amazing candidates. Watch out for formal press releases and templates coming your way as we seek to share the news far and wide!


I. About the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA)

The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) is a new initiative launched by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships with support from the national GEAR UP community and funding from The Kresge Foundation

The GUALA is a 12-month program designed to train and engage GEAR UP alumni in advocacy and leadership, and work toward creating positive change in education policy for their younger peers. The GUALA will select 30 GEAR UP Alumni Leaders annually from across the country and grow the program to one per state over time.

The GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will share personal experiences about the challenges of preparing for, applying to, and affording college. They will educate lawmakers about the importance and value of GEAR UP. GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will also articulate how the federal investment in them – an average of $2,400 per student or $400 per year over 6 years – will be returned to the community over the student’s lifetime by earning a livable wage, paying increased taxes, strengthened citizen engagement, and better public health. Alumni Leaders will build their confidence and skills, and harness their leadership potential to become empowered, community-centered citizens.

The GUALA program year will run from May 2014 to May 2015 and will focus on four key leadership skills in advocacy development:

  • Peer Outreach: To understand the power of peer influence and mobilize peers for action and outcomes.
  • Social Media Activism: To employ the tools available and use them as a vehicle for change with peers and other circles of influence.
  • Public Speaking: To share student stories in an effective and non-exploitive way that is tailored to specific audiences (lawmakers, parents, current students).
  • Issue Advocacy: To apply newly acquired advocacy skills in direct ways through Capitol Hill and District visits to elected officials, responding to and initiating calls to action, and leading a Hill briefing.

Academy Contact at NCCEP:

Daniel Bremer, Associate Director, Government Relations

Email  ║  Phone: (202) 530-1135, ext. 110 Twitter

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II. Academy Goals

The goals of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy are to cultivate youth leadership opportunities at the national, community, and individual levels as follows:

  1. Build Community. The GUALA will provide opportunities for students to build community among similarly situated peers, mentors, and role models whose circumstances reflect their own.
  2. Practice and Master Issue Advocacy. The GUALA will provide opportunities for students to emerge as leaders in the world of traditional and social media advocacy and engage peers in collective activism.
  3. Develop Public Speaking Skills. The GUALA will build student public speaking skills to share information with Members of Congress about their path to postsecondary education.
  4. Cultivate Leadership. The GUALA will coach students to become masterful change agents, role models, community organizers, peer-mentors, and empowered, community-centered citizens.
  5. Offer Motivational Speakers. The GUALA will maintain a diverse “bank” of student success stories on advocacy efforts accessible in-person, or via blog and video. Student stories will become an integral part of all GEAR UP advocacy efforts on a national level, and will be offered to state and local GEAR UP partnerships for advocacy efforts.

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III. Academy Eligibility

The GEAR UP community is committed to student success; therefore applicants must demonstrate a track record of academic performance alongside extracurricular commitments. Priority will be given to students with a 3.0 GPA or above, but all are encouraged to apply. To be eligible for consideration, the applicant must be a former GEAR UP student who is entering college/university in Fall 2014, already enrolled or recently graduated.

Applicant must be able to attend the required DC Alumni Leadership Training scheduled for June 14, 2014 to June 21, 2014. The program year will run from May 2014 through May 2015. Applicants must commit to the 12-month GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy and the national, regional, state, and local activities outlined in Academy Expectations (see Academy Expectations for additional details).

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IV. Academy Expectations 

The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy will be a 12-month commitment of a minimum of 10 hours a month. GUALA Alumni Leaders will carry out the following responsibilities with the support of the GEAR UP community, NCCEP, and the Manager of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy:

  1. Participate in DC Alumni Leadership Training. The DC Alumni Leadership Training will be from June 14, 2014 to June 21, 2014. NCCEP will cover the costs for the June Training. This includes transportation to/from the District of Columbia, dormitory-style accommodations, and meals. Students should plan to travel the morning/afternoon of Saturday, June 14 to arrive in DC for a group dinner at 6:00 p.m. The Training will conclude on Saturday, June 21.  Students should plan return travel for on the same date. 
  2. Be Engaged. Alumni Leaders will keep regular contact with the Manager of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy at least twice a month, as well as participate in on-going webinar trainings throughout the year. Alumni Leaders will meet deadlines and accomplish projects while communicating updates and needs to the Manager, who will provide on-going support. (All Year)
  3. Serve as a Motivational Speaker. Alumni Leaders will work with their corresponding GEAR UP Program as motivational speakers, serving existing students and parents, both in person and via social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). Alumni Leaders will also play a vital role in sharing their young-adult perspective with college access professionals and students, and will work with their corresponding GEAR UP Program to identify appropriate speaking engagements. (All Year)
  4. Engage Peer GEAR UP Alumni. Alumni Leaders will encourage the greater GEAR UP alumni community to join a newly forming alumni network via Facebook. NCCEP staff will support the alumni network with resources and guidance. All GEAR UP alumni will be invited to participate in calls to action, often led by Alumni Leaders. (All Year)
  5. Connect with Members of Congress. Alumni Leaders can choose how they would like to connect with their lawmakers.
    Participate in District Days. GUALA Alumni Leaders will participate in one activity during District Days by connecting with a GEAR UP program in their home state before returning to campus in the fall. NCCEP staff will organize District Days nationally to correspond with the Congressional recess when lawmakers are back at home in their Districts. (August)
    OR
    Lead Congressional District Visits. GUALA Alumni Leaders will lead a delegation of local GEAR UP students and families, staff, and alumni in a visit with district Congressional staff during winter break and spring break. (December/January and March/April)
  6. Showcase GEAR UP Stories. Alumni Leaders can choose how they would like to share student experiences with the public.
    Utilize the Power of Social Media for Advocacy. Alumni Leaders will produce content intended for policy makers/lawmakers by developing web stories, audio recordings, video recordings, printed materials, and photo collages. (All Year)
    OR
    Blog about GEAR UP Experiences. Alumni Leaders will submit monthly blogs about their experience in the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy, which will serve as an opportunity to share their thoughts, efforts, and impact on their local, state, regional, and national GEAR UP communities. (All Year)
  7. Optional: Develop a Media Story. GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will be encouraged to submit at least one media story for print or broadcast during their 12-month commitment to expand the reach of GEAR UP and celebrate the life-impacting events and activities happening throughout GEAR UP programs across the nation. (Optional: All Year)
  8. Optional: Mentor future GEAR UP Alumni Leaders. Throughout the 12-month commitment, Alumni Leaders will have several opportunities to mentor peer GEAR UP alumni and current GEAR UP students. Towards the end of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy experience, in May 2015, Alumni Leaders will have a full-circle opportunity to mentor and impart knowledge to an incoming GEAR UP Alumni Leader. (Optional: May 2015)

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V. Alumni Leader Benefits

GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will gain from the following program benefits:

  1. Mentorship. GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will receive mentoring from at least one adult “sponsor” from their state, most likely from their home GEAR UP program, who can support and mentor the student during the 12-month GUALA commitment.
  2. Advocacy and Leadership Training. The DC Alumni Leadership Training will provide 8 days of issue advocacy, public speaking, social media, and peer outreach training. The agenda will also include social time and team building exercises to strengthen the collective commitment of the GUALA Alumni Leaders and build a group identity.
  3. Capitol Hill Experience. All the students will travel together to Capitol Hill to meet with their lawmakers during the DC Leadership Training. Newly acquired public speaking and advocacy skills will be put to immediate use.
  4. Community Organizing. Alumni Leaders will gain valuable skills in Community Organizing as they garner support from family, friends, and the greater GEAR UP community to positively impact their local GEAR UP programs and ensure the sustainability of national GEAR UP efforts.
  5. Experience Leading Multi-faceted Advocacy Efforts. All the students will travel together to Capitol Hill to meet with their lawmakers during the DC Training, which will serve to exercise their public speaking and advocacy skills with the aim to garner greater support for GEAR UP at the national level. GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will gain valuable experiences in coordinating peers, coalition building, and working collaboratively in local education advocacy efforts as well as on a national scale.

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VI. Expectation of GEAR UP Programs Supporting Alumni Leaders

GEAR UP Programs will have a variety of opportunities to play a vital role in this concerted advocacy and leadership development effort.

  1. Recommendation and Support. GUALA applicants are required to connect with their current or former GEAR UP Program to request a recommendation. Recommendation forms are due on Apr. 4, 2014.
  2. Make a Commitment. Should one of your former GEAR UP Alums be chosen among the Class of 2015 (2014-2015), you will be asked to support them in the following ways:
    a) Be a resource for your GEAR UP Alumni Leader as he/she strives to successfully meet Academy Expectations.
    b) Connect and communicate with your GEAR UP Alumni Leader on a regular basis. GEAR UP Programs are encouraged to identify one current staff member to serve as the mentor or “sponsor” to the GEAR UP Alumni Leader. The GUALA mentor will also connect with the Manager of GUALA (approximately once a month) to stay informed.
    c) Assist in the coordination of District Days events, GEAR UP Week, and/or Congressional visits and other opportunities for the GEAR UP Alumni Leader to serve as advocate and engage communities as a motivational speaker.
    d) Fundraising assistance may be necessary for unanticipated minor expenses that arise. For example, transportation to District Days activities and costs for other activities associated with in-state advocacy efforts. NCCEP will fund the costs associated with the DC Leadership Training, including transportation, accommodations, and meals. Every effort has been made to pre-plan expenses to minimize outside costs.

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VII. Academy Application Requirements

The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) Application process is open for the Class of 2015 (2014-2015). Click here to access the application, recommendation and nomination (optionl) forms. For questions, please contact the Manager of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy.

Interested students must be a current/recent GEAR UP student entering college/university in Fall 2014, already enrolled or recently graduated and must also be able to attend the required D.C. Leadership Training June 14-21, 2014 (paid for by NCCEP). Applicants are required to submit the following application materials:

  1. Electronic Application: The application is located here and includes two essays of 500 words each.
  2. Official Transcript: The transcript should be from the applicant’s most recently attended academic institution and should be mailed to NCCEP (C/O: GUALA, 1400 20th St. NW, Suite G-1, Washington, D.C. 20036).
  3. Electronic Recommendation Form: The form should be submitted by the applicant’s current/former GEAR UP Program. It is strongly encouraged that the form be completed by a current staff member of the GEAR UP Program willing to also serve as the applicant’s mentor/sponsor for the GUALA year of service.

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VIII. Academy Application Timeline

The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) Application process is open for the Class of 2015 (2014-2015). Click here to access the application, recommendation and nomination (optionl) forms. For questions, please contact the Manager of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy.

The general timeline for the GUALA application process is as follows:

  1. March:
    - Nominations are collected as GEAR UP Programs submit names and contact information of alumni that might be interested in applying. Applicants do not have to be nominated to apply.
    Online application is posted. NCCEP will make the application available via the NCCEP website, and will share it widely among existing and past GEAR UP grantees, and encourage sharing through social media. 
  2. April (early):
    Application Due. Applicants will be required to submit application materials including a transcript, essays, and a recommendation from their former/supporting GEAR UP Program. NCCEP will develop a review panel to read applications and select the 30 Alumni Leaders from the applications submitted. 
  3. April (late):
    Select and notify GEAR UP Alumni Leaders. GEAR UP Alumni Leaders will be notified of their selection and will be required to confirm acceptance of the 12-month commitment, which includes their required attendance at the D.C. Alumni Leadership Training in June. NCCEP will also notify the recommending/supporting GEAR UP program to confirm support for the GEAR UP Alumni Leader throughout their 12-month commitment. GUALA Alternates will also be notified of their status.
  4. April/May:
    Wide announcements of the GUALA Class. NCCEP will share the news broadly and collaborate with local GEAR UP programs, and the student’s postsecondary institution, to maximize media opportunities with templates to use for local media.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to reserve the following important dates to ensure their availability if selected as an Alumni Leader:

  1. June 14-21, 2014: Selected Alumni Leaders are required to attend the D.C. Alumni Leadership Training held from June 14, 2014 to June 21, 2014. NCCEP will cover the costs for the June Training. This includes transportation to/from the District of Columbia from the Alumni Leader’s home State, dormitory-style accommodations, and meals. Students should plan to travel the morning/afternoon of Saturday, June 14, 2014 to arrive in D.C. for a group dinner at 6:00 p.m. The Training will conclude late on Saturday, June 21, with return travel to home States occurring on the same date, June 21, 2014.

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IX. Academy Selection Criteria

Selection for the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) is competitive and is based upon the following criteria:

  1. Academic Record: An academic transcript from the most recently attended academic institution is required. The GEAR UP community is committed to student success, therefore, applicants for the GUALA must demonstrate a track record of academic performance alongside extracurricular commitments. Priority will be given to students with a 3.0 GPA or above, but all are encouraged to apply.
  2. Essays: Applicants are required to submit two essays. The content of the two essays will be evaluated for the communication skills, articulation of ideas, creativity, and substance exhibited in the writing submissions.
  3. Recommendation: Applicants are required to request that their current/former GEAR UP Program submit a Recommendation Form on the applicant’s behalf. It is preferred that applicants come highly recommended from the GEAR UP program they have an established relationship with and with which they will be working closely with throughout the year of service.
  4. GEAR UP Program Match: GUALA applicants with an established relationship or willingness to establish a relationship with their current/former GEAR UP Program are preferred.
  5. Personal Qualities: The applicant’s extracurricular involvements will be reviewed, and applicants who are team players with a professional demeanor are preferred. Flexibility, self-motivation, and an openness to learn are highly desired.

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X. Acknowledgements

The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) has been and will continue to be a collective effort. NCCEP gratefully acknowledges the GEAR UP community and friends of GEAR UP who have assisted in the development of this new and exciting initiative. We look forward to your continued support and feedback as this pilot program evolves. Special thanks to The Kresge Foundation for their support of the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy program.

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