Welcome to the NCCEP newsroom!  Click on the links below to read the latest news from NCCEP and GEAR UP. 

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.

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.

This week was filled with paperwork at high schools across Montana, part of a statewide push for more students to go to college.

It was College Application Week, a Montana GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) and Office of Public Instruction collaboration to help high school seniors apply for college and fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

All Montana University System, private and tribal institutions participate, either waiving or deferring application fees. While it's called College Application Week, GEAR UP points out that it's to help seniors applying to any post-high school program.

College Application Week launched in 2013 in Montana. That year, 84 high schools participated. This fall, it's up to 138.


As Veronique Zimmerman-Brown, Ph.D., drives through the Black Belt, she can tell easily that jobs have been hard to come by and that the region’s poverty rate stands at close to 30 percent. “You can see historical deficiencies in terms of finance and economics,” says Zimmerman-Brown, a UAB School of Education program director and alumna. “A lot of businesses are boarded up, so you know the money isn’t flowing, and the tax revenue isn’t there.”

Another statistic accompanies those gaps and empty spaces: In the Black Belt—the counties stretching through central Alabama from Mississippi to Georgia—nearly a quarter of adults age 25 and over, on average, have never earned a high school diploma.

For Zimmerman-Brown and Lawrence Tyson, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB School of Education Counselor Education Program, that figure presents an opportunity to turn things around—and they’re not starting small. The two are leading the GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Alabama initiative, which is providing support to 9,300 students, along with their parents and guardians, in 21 Black Belt school districts from seventh and eighth grade through their first year in college.


Walla Walla and College Place schools will share in a $25 million grant to be divided among 10 Eastern Washington school districts over the next seven years.

The federal money will be used to help students at Pioneer, Garrison and John Sager middle schools set a path for college.

GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, was established in 1998 by the Clinton administration and is administered by the federal Department of Education.

The local GEAR UP program is managed by Washington State University Tri-Cities, with oversight by a board consisting of superintendents from each participating school district.

Washington, DC – The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (“NCCEP”) announced that it is the new home for Career & College Clubs, a national program for helping students prepare for success in high school, college, and life.

“We are excited to bring Career & College Clubs into the NCCEP family,” said Ranjit Sidhu, NCCEP President and CEO. “Career & College Clubs is a well-respected, evidence-based solution for increasing college readiness and success that aligns perfectly to our mission. I’m looking forward to working with the program’s existing school and community partners, as well as introducing Career & College Clubs to our stakeholders.”

Career & College Clubs is a peer-to-peer intervention that provides students with the knowledge, tools, support, and confidence they need to plan for and assume responsibility for their futures. The program is targeted to schools and communities with large percentages of students living in poverty; historically, 76% of the students at Career & College Clubs school sites, on average, are eligible for Free and Reduced Price Meals. Through the 2015-2016 academic year, the program had been adopted by more than 300 schools, reaching 50,000+ students.

Programs at 10 school districts in Eastern Washington will benefit from a $25 million grant to WSU Tri-Cities.

The university received its seventh seven-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare students in low-income schools to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The university has been part of the program since 2002.

The money will pay for programs in Walla Walla, College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Kennewick, Othello, Warden, Moses Lake and Soap Lake.

The university plans to hire 100 people across the districts to provide assistance to students, so they can attend a college or a university.

Students start in the program during six and seventh grade, and receive assistance throughout high school. The employees act as mentors, helping the students with homework, grammar and other life skills.

To be eligible for the program, 50 percent or more of the students at a school need to be eligible for the free or reduced lunch program.

“(The program) will really make a difference in our communities, especially for first-generation and underrepresented populations,” said Chuck Hallsted, the WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP director.

The program ending in 2015 led to 25 percent more eighth-grade students passing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, 29 percent more 10th-grade students passing the High School Proficiency Exam in math, and a 75 percent increase in the students passing the same test for science.

Washington State University Tri-Cities recently received a $25 million seven-year GEAR UP grant to prepare students in low-income schools to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs project will hire close to 100 new employees to work with students in middle schools.

This is the seventh U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. Earlier awards have helped the university serve more than 25,000 students in middle and high schools.

Low-income and rural partnerships

The grant goals are to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, on-time graduation and post-secondary enrollment.

The grant “will raise student awareness and readiness for post-secondary education and career opportunities,” said Chuck Hallsted, GEAR UP director. “It will really make a difference in our communities, especially for first generation and underrepresented populations.”

The program serves 4,500 students in 10 partner districts: Walla Walla, College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Kennewick, Othello, Warden, Moses Lake and Soap Lake.

Science scholars employed by the Smithsonian are presenting interactive lessons to all eighth grade GEAR UP classrooms in Lafayette Parish this week.

The presenters engage students with hands-on science experiments to encourage their curiosity and enthusiasm for science.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally funded grant initiative that provides students with the skills, access, preparation and information needed to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.