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

“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.

In San Diego County and the Inland Empire, California, Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are partnering with industry leaders and others to create a workforce development program. A local GEAR UP grant plans to partner with the new initiative to help students become workforce ready.


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.

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.