GEAR UP in the News

The highest-scoring Canyon County district was Notus, a small district of about 410 students in a rural part of the county between Caldwell and Parma.

Notus school district staff said they were pleased with the results. About 47 percent of test takers met the math college readiness benchmark. This is the highest percentage meeting the benchmark of the Canyon County districts.

Fifty-nine percent met the reading and writing benchmark.

District staff feel the students excelled in answering "real-world problems." Part of that is attributed to their GEAR UP grant that provided extra support for the students, according to superintendent Craig Woods and secondary counselor Lorrie Houston.

As the GEAR UP students transition to Ottumwa High School as freshmen, a new face will provide expanded GEAR UP services, thanks to support from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.

The State of Iowa was awarded a second federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) in the fall of 2014. Ottumwa was selected to participate. The project supports a group of students (Class of 2020) for seven years, following them from seventh grade through their twelfth grade year. Students and their families receive a variety of services aimed at preparing them academically, financially and inspirationally to enroll and succeed in college. Upon enrollment in college, GEAR UP Iowa students will receive a modest scholarship for up to four years.

Waipahu High will welcome its Class of 2020 in a big way on Monday, August 1, 2016. The Freshmen First Day Orientation will be assisted by UH Mānoa GEAR UP Waipahu, a federally funded program designed to help students in Waipahu High's Class of 2020 get to college.

Emcees of the program at Waipahu High will include 102.7 Da Bomb radio DJ Kristlyez and actor/drama educator Jonah "Mox" Moananu. Keynote address will be given by Kristine Uyeno, KHON news anchor and Waipahu High alumna.

Goals of the event are to welcome incoming freshmen to Waipahu High, encourage them to take advantage of the myriad opportunities while in high school and to make good, positive life choices. In addition, the event will help spread the message that early college awareness and preparation can result in access to and success in higher education.

No one in Vanessa Dishmond’s family has gone to college, but that is about to change.

The Macon woman’s daughter Alania already has toured 17 campuses and she is only beginning her senior year at Central High School.

Since sixth grade, Alania has been involved in the GEAR UP program, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, funded by a 2011 U.S. Department of Education grant.

On Saturday, her mother spent the day at Wesleyan College at Parent University.

“They really helped me out with all the college information,” Dishmond said after the class.

Not only did the 18 parents learn how to apply for financial aid and file applications, they were encouraged to prepare their children years before they are ready for college.

Central Washington University has geared up to host Washington Business Week (WBW) students for the 40th consecutive year. The annual summer program (July 25-29), sponsored by the Association of Washington Business, helps high school students prepare to enter the workforce through teaching them business skills, while instilling in them the confidence and honing the values they need to succeed.

WBW serves more than 3,000 teens annually, from throughout the state, through summer camps and in-school community programs. They feature businesses leaders and working professionals, from a variety of careers such as advanced business, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing.

In Ellensburg this year, about 190 students will be involved in a program that will feature agriculture and energy tracks. Many of them are from GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) from the Brewster, Easton, Highland, Lake Chelan, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Quincy, Richland, Tonasket, and Wenatchee school districts.

The CWU GEAR-UP partnership serves 5,400 middle and high school students in those school districts.

Two Washington & Lee High School GEAR UP students, Hazen Shryock and Destiny Crockett along with their parents, Julia Shryock and Towanda Smith, represented the Virginia delegation at the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) conference in Washington, DC on July 17-20, 2016.

The students were selected by their 8th grade teachers at Montross Middle School to attend the Youth Leadership Summit (YLS). The YLS provides a high quality, national–level interactive training experience and peer-to-peer learning opportunity for 9th-12th grade high school students who are currently participating in GEAR UP programs. This year 150 students were selected from across the United States and Guam to attend.

In late June, about 275 rising ninth-graders from several Virginia middle schools participated in two GEAR UP Virginia Power of Youth camps at the University.

GEAR UP — Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — provides various programs such as tutoring, mentoring and summer camps to encourage young kids to attend college. GEAR UP is funded by a federal grant given to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Marcus Martin, University Vice President and Chief Officer For Diversity and Equity, said his office, the Virginia-North Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation, or VA-NC Alliance, and the Center for Diversity in Engineering also provided financial support to accommodate the two camps’ stay.

“My office is interested in diversifying [the] student body — especially low-income and first-generation college students — so the perfect program for us to assist with is GEAR UP,” Martin said.

Martin said he was delighted to welcome students from the school that he attended in his hometown of Covington, Virginia.

“These were low-income and disadvantaged kids, and they got excited to see the University and energetic about potentially going to college,” Martin said.

The SOEST Maile Mentoring Bridge program strives to recruit and retain Native Hawaiian and kamaʻāina undergraduates in ocean, earth and environmental science degree programs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). In May, the first cohort of Maile students—Charles “Aka” Beebe, Kanani, Lhiberty Pagaduan and Diamond Tachera—earned bachelor’s degrees with the support and encouragement of their mentors.

“Native Hawaiians and kamaʻāina are underrepresented in the ocean, earth and environmental sciences. Which is really unfortunate because Hawaiʻi kids often have strong cultural, family or personal connections to the local environment,” said Postdoctoral Researcher Tiffany Anderson, Maile Mentoring Bridge co-manager and one of about a dozen mentors. “Many times, they are also the first in their families to pursue higher education in science, and can really benefit from the experience of someone who has already gone through the program.”

DESOTO—The DeSoto ISD GEAR UP program is excited to partner with Best Buy and the Geek Squad Academy to bring the Geek Squad Academy to DeSoto High School June 22 and 23 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Academy features two full days of fun and interactive, hands-on experience with new and cool technology. DeSoto ISD and GEAR UP do not want just to tell our students about the future of technology; we want to show them and spark their inner creativity and flare for innovation.

Now in its 10th season, Geek Squad Academy from Best Buy provides teens opportunities where they can develop tech skills that will inspire future education and career choices. To accomplish this, Geek Squad Academy partners with local non-profits and other organizations to expose students ages 10-18 to the latest technology in a fun, interactive setting. With local Geek Squad agents and Best Buy Blue Shirts hosting classes such as Robotics and Circuitry, Coding, Film Production, Photography, 3D Design, Digital Music, and more, teens build friendships and self-confidence, utilize their own creativity and innovation, and discover how technology can benefit them in school now and in their work lives later.

In 2014, DeSoto ISD was only one of two Texas institutions and the ONLY K-12 Texas district to receive the prestigious GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education. GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – serves a cohort of 1,400 students from all three DeSoto ISD middle schools through DeSoto High School.

About 150 high school seniors from Anaheim attended classes on campus this month to experience university life and develop strong academic habits as part of the college-readiness program GEAR UP.

The courses in women’s studies and Chicana and Chicano studies sparked discussions about whether Beyonce is a feminist and how Colonial culture and race defined a caste system. Students called the topics “mind-blowing” challenges to their own personal views.

“The course isn’t watered down, and I feel like I’m getting a good class experience,” said James Cho, a Western High School senior.

Students said the discussions forced them to become more aware of racial division on their high school campuses, in their cities and across the nation. The talks exposed hopes that a diverse and “open-minded” university campus, such as Cal State Fullerton, could elevate their education experience.

“I see that I have certain views, myself, and I want to challenge that,” said Ruthie Mendez, a Western High School senior.

Nearly 1,500 students from Savanna, Magnolia and Western High Schools in Anaheim participate in the program throughout the year. Many started working with GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program, in seventh grade and continued in the grant-funded program in high school.

Sixty soon-to-be high school freshmen are in Des Moines this week getting an early start on college preparation as part of a federally-funded program called GEAR UP. That stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel, spokeswoman for Iowa College Aid, says GEAR UP is meant to prepare students from a dozen Iowa school districts for the academic and financial pressures of college.

“The way the 12 districts were chosen was by looking at the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches,” she says, “so it was an economic benchmark.” The districts include Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City and Fort Dodge.

Tigers earn Daniels Fund Scholarships

Graduating Encampment High School (EHS) seniors Gale Jackson and Cassidy Little have been selected to receive Daniels Fund Scholarships this year. The Daniels Fund provides financial aid to students who graduated from high school in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico or Wyoming and can demonstrate financial need.

According to the organization’s website, other selection criteria for scholarship recipients include an ACT score of 17 or higher in each category of the test (math, reading, writing and science) or an SAT score of greater than 400 in math and 440 in reading.

The website describes the award as highly competitive, and says that after an initial screening of applications, finalists are selected to be interviewed by community members.

For Jackson and Little, that meant that after they received email notification that they’d been chosen as finalists, they had to schedule appointments in Laramie. In Laramie, each went before a panel of five judges for an intensive 30-minute interview.

“The Daniels Fund is a lot about character and service, so they ask you questions about yourself and your plans to better the future,” Little said of the process. Jackson largely agreed with that description, adding that the panel of judges was composed of former scholarship recipients and meant to be anonymous.

Both recent graduates said they thought their community service factored into their selection as Daniels Fund Scholars.

EVERETT — Garry Larson is known around school for his inspirational poetry. This year he was selected as a GEAR-UP student Ambassador, and will travel to Washington, D.C., as a representative of students from Washington state.

GEAR-UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs and aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter college.

Question: Tell me about being a GEAR-UP Ambassador.

Answer: I'm going to Washington, D.C., in July. It is such an honor. I'm just humbled how they (my classmates) chose me out of all the other kids that I feel could be better than me, and I'm one out of six kids in the whole state. So I just want to put out a good word for everyone I love.

Q: What are your plans after high school?

A: I definitely want to go to a university. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I'm thinking Gonzaga or the UW. I don't have a solid plan in place, but I really love science. I kind of want to go more into history, because I love about learning about the wars, and how we need to learn about history so we don't repeat it.

Q: What was your home life like growing up?

A: I kind of have a complicated story because I lived in the foster care system for 10 years, so it was back and forth between Washington and California. I got adopted when I was 13, and I just kind of look at that as a second chance. Previously, I had no chance of success, I wasn't in a position where I could flourish, but now I'm in a position where I'm succeeding in school, I'm starting to think about my potential.

In February 2015, the Village of Hempstead’s Alverta B. Gray. Schultz Middle School, in partnership with Nassau Community College, received a state grant through an initiative called New York Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs [NYGEAR UP], which is funded with federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Education, funneled through the Higher Education Services Corporation. A.B.G.S. was chosen to receive the nearly $500,000 grant designed to give students college and career readiness in low-income areas where there is a 50 percent or higher poverty level.  The NYGEAR UP program grants schools the funds to have tutors in class and expanded academic opportunities such as: local college visits, summer workshops and camps, educational field trips, and counselors to guide students and parents so they understand what is required for college and courses that will help them master everyday life skills.

A little after 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, 11-year-old Madison Welcher could have been at home. Instead she was at Chase Middle School.

The sixth-grader was compiling and annotating an anthology of 40 poems on her school-issued laptop for reading class.

“I need to get my work done and when I’m home, I get distracted,” Welcher said when asked why she was there. “And also, I need points to go on the field trip.”

Nearby, 13-year-old Montez Simmons worked on an assignment for science class — an illustration of African savanna ecosystems for which the deadline was rapidly approaching.

“I’m doing this so I can get it done,” the seventh-grader said. “Monday’s our last day.”

Welcher and Simmons are among the scores of Chase students who have been staying after school or coming in on the weekends for extra academic time, one-on-one guidance from teachers and a variety of other activities meant to motivate kids to attend. Those activities range from playing soccer with the Washburn University women’s soccer team to taking field trips that require first earning points for good behavior, good grades, Saturday attendance or other actions.

This extra school time — called Chase Academy — is funded with a federal Gear Up grant that flows through The University of Kansas.

For principal Keith Jones, the grant is a chance to increase academic rigor at his school. He doesn’t see demographic hurdles — nine in 10 Chase students come from low-income families — as a reason students can’t excel. Instead, he sees this as a reason to provide additional academic resources.