GEAR UP in the News

In Tennessee, Grainger High School saw a sharp increase of the number of students who enrolled in postsecondary institutions immediately following graduation. In just two years, the number of students who enrolled immediately went from 25% to 75%. Vicki Farrar, the GEAR UP coordinator for Grainger County Schools, attributes this increase in large part to GEAR UP, along with Tennessee Promise.

New York City was the site of the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop. Eastern Oklahoma’s GEAR UP delegation joined over 1,400 GEAR UP professionals from across the nation at the workshop designed to help new and experienced GEAR UP professionals effectively meet their project goals and objectives through professional development and strategic planning activities. The workshop is coordinated by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and is planned in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education.

West Virginia GEAR UP recently launched the Student Success Society in GEAR UP high schools. The Student Success Society is a program that provides mentoring services to students. In celebration of National Mentoring Month and the benefits of mentoring, West Virginia GEAR UP is celebrating a program that will help more students succeed in high school and beyond.

“I am so excited… I’m going to college!”  “ I can’t wait until I tell my parents about this, wow.” These were just a few of the many comments students were saying after being accepted to college at the annual Massachusetts College Access Celebration (MCAC) at their high school in Worcester. Having attended several of the programs in our high schools last month I can attest to the excitement and the relief of the students knowing that they have been accepted by the colleges.

MCAC is part of the American College Application Campaign initiative sponsored by the American Council on Education. It is sponsored by GEAR UP ( Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)  Massachusetts and administered by the Massachusetts of Higher Education in collaboration with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority. Participating MCAC Colleges are American International College, Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Bay State College, Fitchburg State University, Nichols College, Quinsigamond Community College, Rhode Island College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Western New England University, Westfield State University, and Worcester State University.

The empty coal train creaking its way through Madison, W.Va., captured the attention of residents on the streets of the once-prosperous community. Located in Boone County, the heart of coal country, townspeople hoped it was a sign that a coal mine was reopening — somewhere.

Devastated by the opioid epidemic and loss of good-paying jobs, Madison once supported three department stores. But that was a while ago. Now it is a shell of its former self.

Since then, it has struggled like many communities that have lost their economic base. Various federal aid programs have made funds available to rebuild devastated counties like it. Boone is one of 10 counties in the state that qualified for federal grant money through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or Gear Up.

One of its beneficiaries is James (Ikie) Brooks, 21. His parents are representative of the economic woes in Madison. His father died after years of substance abuse, and his mother suffered for many years from drug addiction.

Westmoreland County Schools in Virginia highlighted GEAR UP’s work over the last couple years, including services GEAR UP offers and students who attended the Annual NCCEP/GEAR UP Conference.

Berea College, which runs two GEAR UP grants, is expanding its work with low-income students through a recently funded Promise Neighborhood Grant for work in Knox County, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

In Kansas, KU GEAR UP has a mentoring program to help students explore possible futures. Students describe the experience mentoring has had in their lives.

At Thursday’s Madison County Board of Education meeting, board members heard stories from three local high school seniors who have been involved in the district’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

All three praised the program and the impact of having valuable resources and helpful representatives at their disposal.

GEAR UP is a discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools.

GEAR UP grantees provide valuable resources and assistance  to students beginning in middle school and following them through high school and graduation.

Terry Hosler, GEAR UP coordinator for Madison County, said now that the program is in its sixth year in the county, the impact of the program on student’s lives are more apparent.

“You have all the numbers and records in front of you,” Hosler told board members. “But I always prefer to hear from the student, so I decided to bring three seniors who have been involved with GEAR UP with me tonight to share with you how they have been affected by the program.

Ninth grade students and parents from Barbour County High School attended the GEAR UP Alabama Day sponsored by Troy University last week.

The county school students enjoyed a full day of activities, which began with registration and check-in at the Crosby Theater. After checking in, the students were given presentations on what to do to prepare for college, the admissions process, college finances, and also received encouraging remarks from Dr. Veronique Zimmerman-Brown, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education, and the Gear Up Alabama Project Director.

New Jersey GEAR UP at Salem Community College named Destiny Bush as the project director. Bush is a first-generation college student and holds a master’s degree in education from Washington State University and a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Stockton University.

An estimated 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to officials with the Texas Partners Federal Credit Union.

It’s a reality check that some local high school students got on Wednesday thanks to a real life simulation fair.

It was hosted by the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), in partnership with the Texas Partners Federal Credit Union.

About 200 students from the Killeen and Lampasas Independent School Districts learned about budgeting, the cost of living, and the importance of choosing a career that matches up with the type of lifestyle a student wants to have.

At the reality fair, students were randomly given a career and salary to live by, complete with monthly taxes and other expenses.

The goal for each student was to keep a balanced budget.

When Yvette Rooks, MD, CAQ, FAAFP, assistant professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, was growing up in the Bronx, N.Y., she had very few role models and even as the daughter of two police officers, had a penchant for getting into trouble.

“Many years ago, I was in your seat,” Rooks told a group of about 100 freshman students from Edmondson-Westside High School, gathered in the auditorium of the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON). “So as I speak with you today, I speak with you from my heart. Because you kind of see this middle-aged woman, she's a doctor now, how can she relate?”

Rooks served as guest speaker Nov. 9 at UMSON’s launch of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a national program made possible through a $149,000 grant award from the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The grant provides high schools with college guidance services, professional development for staff, and support and resources for students and families through their senior year of high school.

Rumbila Abdullahi and her family came to America from Kenya before she entered high school. When she came to America, Abdullahi remembered catching on faster to the English language than her older siblings and parents did. She became not only a student with expectations of going to college —but a translator for her family members.

“I spend a lot of my time here,” Abdullahi said of Springfield Central High School. “We’re advised to challenge ourselves … But expecting students to get everything done and go through the college process can be overwhelming.”

As a future first-generation college student, Abdullahi is dealing with the pressures at home and at school to be knowledgeable and successful when it comes to getting to college. As a high school senior at Springfield Central High School and a student in GEAR UP, Abdullahi hopes to be relieved of some of the pressures she feels about the college process.

Central staff says college is a more attainable dream after high school because of the presence of GEAR UP. The program helps students and their parents learn more about the college application process. Statewide, the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association Factbook reported 6,382 middle and high school students being served by GEAR UP. Today, that number is over 10,000.

More than 100 middle-school students in will descend upon the Central Washington University campus to attend the annual GEAR UP Math Festival on November 15.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a CWU program funded by an  $18 million-plus US Department of Education grant, one of several that the university has received in the past 15 years. The current grant, SOAR3 (Success, Opportunity, Affordability and Rigor, Relevance and Relationships) serves students in the Brewster, Easton, Highland, Lake Chelan, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Quincy, Richland, Tonasket, and Wenatchee school districts.

“Participating in STEM competitions is a key component of the grant,” said Kelley Quirk, program manager. “Earlier this year, we took students to the VEX Robotics World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.