GEAR UP in the News

The program offers comprehensive college preparation

A quick glance at a few recent headlines on CJOnline will reveal how hazardous it is for Kansas schools to rely on state funding.

“Justice: How much longer will Kansas have unconstitutional school funding?”

“Legislature passes school finance equity plan slammed by Topeka schools.”

“Topeka USD 501 alarmed over potential loss of $300K in expected state aid.”

Read these articles and you will find ample evidence of inequality, inconsistency and short-term thinking in our education system. This is why the need for the GEAR UP program has never been greater in our state, and we are fortunate to have it in Topeka.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal grant that funds training and support for students who plan to attend college. In Topeka, GEAR UP is administered by the University of Kansas, and it provides $2.24 million in services to 720 students over seven years.

The 720 students — who are currently seventh- and eighth-graders at Chase and Eisenhower middle schools — will benefit from KU GEAR UP until they graduate from high school in 2020 and 2021. KU GEAR UP has three objectives: First, 65 percent of these students will improve their academic performance and complete the program’s courses on time; second, the same number of students will graduate from high school and attend college without taking remedial classes; and third, 70 percent of parents will “actively” help their children prepare for college.


TUSCALOOSA — Dr. Mark Heinrich, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, has not only pledged to provide college tuition waivers to the 9,300 seventh and eighth grade students that make up the inaugural cohort of GEAR UP Alabama (GUA), but Chancellor Heinrich has extended the same courtesy to the legal guardians of GUA students. He states, “We are excited to partner with GEAR UP Alabama by providing tuition assistance to parents of GEAR UP Alabama cohort students who qualify for admissions”.

A group of 22 seniors signed their letter of intent to attend UC Blue Ash College as part of the College Signing Day Celebration held at Norwood High School on April 29.

Some of the students will attend UC Blue Ash through the GEAR UP Norwood Program that was established in 2014 thanks to the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant.

The funding, which includes more than $1 million for scholarships over seven years, is through the U.S. Department of Education.

KINGMAN - Highly informational meetings for a program aimed at sending more kids to college than ever will held at two Kingman high schools this week.

Every student from the 2018 graduating classes at Lee Williams High School and Kingman High School is participating in the GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), a six-year federal grant managed and doled out to select Arizona school districts by Northern Arizona University.

Wednesday and Thursday nights will provide an opportunity for parents to find out how their kids are preparing for the future and to build a stronger teacher/student/parent relationship.

"Parents will get tons of info on this program," said Kingman High School GEAR UP Coordinator Shelly Moon. "The goal is to improve graduation rates and send more kids to college."

The grant funding follows a cohort of students from 7th grade through high school graduation, and is focused on pushing students to see college, trade schools and even success in the military and business world as a strong reality by helping them find the tools they'll need to accomplish their goals.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Humboldt Unified School District sophomores are frequently asked to ponder this question as they find themselves about half-way through a federally funded program called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).

The district is one of nine in the state participating in GEAR UP.

The free program is designed to help students succeed in school and define their path going forward, specifically targeting the class of 2018.

“Our goal is to get the kids to be academically, socially and developmentally ready for post-secondary education, whether that be military, two year degree, four year degree, etc.,” said Sandra Clark, a GEAR UP Coordinator.


RED JACKET – Mingo Central High School welcomed some important guests on Tuesday afternoon, the presidents of West Virginia University, Marshall University and Southern W.Va. Community and Technical College for their College Day assembly.

Presidents Gordon Gee of WVU, Jerome Gilbert of MU and Robert Gunter of SWVCTC (Southern) all addressed the students, faculty and parents in attendance for the special day. Gary White of Logan, the former interim president of Marshall, was also at the event with Gilbert. Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of West Virginia’s four-year public colleges and universities was also one of the speakers.

All of the college presidents gave short speeches and talked about the importance of getting an education after high school.

MCHS Principal Teresa Jones welcomed the dignitaries and those in attendance. She was flanked by her counselors Tish Marcum, Christine Harmon and Riley Browning.....

.......Adam Green, Vice-Chancellor for Gear-Up, also gave a short presentation and talked about that program. West Virginia Gear-Up is a federally funded program that helps students in ten counties prepare to succeed in education and training beyond high school. “Gear-Up” stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” and the program’s goal is to help more students pursue their dreams of earning a college diploma or skillset certificate.....

Jessica Wheeler, a Person High School (PHS) senior who has a passion for education, recently received the Teacher Education Fellows scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).

The $20,000 scholarship, awarded incrementally over four years, includes early internships, integrated seminars, networking events, community engagement opportunities and leadership development.

In addition, the scholarship allows recipients to participate in a study abroad program and also live in relative proximity in one of the residential colleges.

Wheeler feels that her experience in the Teacher Cadet One, Two, and Three programs at South Elementary School and Helena Elementary School gave her an edge over the other scholarship applicants.

Wheeler is a member of Person High School’s National Honor Society, Student Council and Key Club, and serves as a GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) ambassador.

NASELLE — Comet Career Day at Naselle-Grays River Valley School (NGRVS) March 23 attracted more than 50 career representatives, giving NGRVS and Wahkiakum High School students convenient opportunities to learn about a wide range of job options.

NGRVS Counselor Justin Laine dreamed up the event and credits others with helping make it a reality.

“For the past two or three years, I had been seriously contemplating a career fair involving our community members,” Laine said. “In fact, I had developed a list of 40 to 50 possible community members and penciled out a framework many times. I have long felt that we have a wealth of very caring, talented and successful people in our community who represent a broad range of careers. I thought that this might be a fun and engaging way to recognize and celebrate their many talents.”

The school’s GEAR UP team of Shirley Miller, Edie Glenn and Rachel Suomela and administrators Lisa Nelson, Karen Wirkkala and Brian Macy said, “Let’s set a date,” Laine said. (GEAR UP is an acronym for a Department of Education discretionary grant program entitled Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.)

Susan Hill, college access adviser for Kansas Kids GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) spoke this week to the USD 503 Board of Education regarding the program actively helping students in Parsons.

GEAR UP is a college access program that is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Education designed to help disadvantaged students prepare for post-secondary education. Kansas Kids GEAR UP (KKGU) is a statewide program hosted by Wichita State University serving middle and high school students. The program branches out into six regions throughout the state.

Kansas is the only Gear project in the nation funded by the Department of Education that focuses solely on foster care students, Hill told the board.

Alabama Power engineers mentor eighth-grade students

Nearly 100 middle school girls turned out for the 2016 iCan Girls Engineering Conference recently at Alabama Power’s Corporate Headquarters.

The all-day event, held March 5, drew students from sixth-grade to eighth-grade from more than 50 metro Birmingham schools. Accompanied by their parents, girls were divided into teams assigned to three projects to learn about electrical, mechanical and civil engineering.

Colleges, universities and engineering societies were represented at booths to discuss educational opportunities. Current Alabama Power college co-op students were also  on hand to discuss their experiences.

“We hope, if nothing else, these girls and parents gained a better awareness of the limitless career options engineering offers,” said Jakkera Ellison, a transmission line design and support engineer.

The students learned about civil engineering by building foil boats. They explored electrical engineering by building minirobots using only pager motors and toothbrush bristles. Mechanical engineering concepts were used to build a catapult.

In an afternoon session for parents, Veronique Zimmerman-Brown, project director of GEAR-UP Alabama, explained how they can be more involved in the math and science areas of their girls’ education. GEAR-UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Alabama is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education focused on 52 schools in Alabama’s Black Belt. The program is implemented in middle and high schools to boost the number of low-income students attending and succeeding in postsecondary education.

Ever heard the anecdote that North Carolina’s top state universities don’t really want students from Western North Carolina? Turns out it’s not just false, but nearly the opposite of the truth, a Carolina Public Press investigation has found.

Statistics from North Carolina State University in Raleigh show that WNC counties have among the highest acceptance rates for applicants.

While this may run contrary to popular wisdom, it’s not necessarily news to high school counselors who work with students to admission to college. The numbers at N.C. State have some WNC high schools thinking that small schools and increased funding efforts for rural districts are working to the advantage of their students.

The university provided CPP with county-by-county statistics for the number of students who applied, gained admittance and enrolled at N.C. State.

Angela wasn’t even sure she was going to finish high school. Today, she is an undergrad and grad degree holder from her dream school (UCLA), a successful higher education professional, and is an inspiring example of focusing on college dreams early on.

Sanchez says that, without scholarship support, her life today would have been very different. The first scholarship she ever received was a GEAR UP Education Trust Award as a student at Toll Middle School in Glendale, CA, a California GEAR UP school.

Back in 2005, when she received the award, she already knew she was going to college but wasn’t sure how she was going to afford it. This award opened her eyes to the world of scholarships and financial aid, a pathway she followed successfully and is a debt free graduate degree holder as a result.

LAURINBURG — The Scotland High School athletic department will host ‘A Step Ahead’ program for all rising senior football players on Thursday at 3 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

The meeting is required for all players and their parents or guardians.

During the meeting, athletic director and head football coach Richard Bailey, along with GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) coordinator Rangel Moore, will share important information with the student-athletes about how they can be a step ahead of where they need to be academically for their senior year.

GEAR UP, or the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is helping 14-year-old Terrell Bullock-Wallington, of Mount Airy, prepare for college. The eighth-grader at the Morris Leeds Middle School not only meets with his GEAR UP manager, Terry Ward, but attends a host of pre-collegiate activities.

This has caused young Bullock-Wallington to now consider the possibility a STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) career.

Perhaps no one is excited about the youngster’s interest in higher education more than his father, Robert Wallington. He has seen first-hand his son’s new interest in mapping out his educational and vocational future.

“I really recommend that all parents sign up their children for this program,” Wallington said. “The motto is gearing up students for past secondary education and looking forward at their future employment. The STEM model is great. It gives them to tools necessary to enhance their skills in a global world whether they decided to go to college or vocational school.”

Grant helps kids eye higher education

When Jacob Rose, a junior at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High, was in seventh grade he was reading on a third-grade level. He was also small for his age and shy. He was bullied in school. He didn’t know it, but his whole life was about to change because the Jasper County School District had just received a GEAR UP grant.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is “…designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. … grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Education.

South Carolina’s Commission for Higher Education, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, acknowledging the relationship between economic development and education, applied for and received a GEAR UP grant in 2011.

Money was directed to 22 schools, many of them located along what has been called South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame.