National Council for Community and Education Partnerships

Our Mission

We build the capacity of communities to ensure that underserved students have the opportunity, skills, and knowledge to successfully pursue the education and training that will enable them to achieve their career and life goals. We work towards a future where all students are empowered and equipped with the education and training needed to succeed in a diverse and global society.


Our Strategy



Developing a mindset of continual improvement and equipping GEAR UP professionals and youth with the skills necessary to maximize their programmatic impact.


Ensuring that GEAR UP programs and professionals have the necessary skills, capabilities, and infrastructure to make informed decisions based on sound data, research, and evaluations.


Strengthening our collective voice to secure the long-term sustainability and growth of GEAR UP locally and nationally.


What We Believe

This Work Matters. When students achieve their dreams of earning a postsecondary degree or credential, we believe there are powerful benefits for the civic, economic, and social well-being of our nation. To meet the demands of the future, all students—especially those who have been historically underrepresented in higher education—must have equitable access to educational opportunity and excellence.

Early Intervention Is Key. We believe that postsecondary success is intimately linked to college readiness and that communities must begin addressing college readiness no later than middle school. When students have the commitment and drive to pursue their dreams and are equipped with the requisite academic skills, knowledge, and confidence to navigate the pathway to college or postsecondary training, success is likely to follow.

Partnerships Catalyze Success. We believe increasing postsecondary completion rates requires a comprehensive and systemic effort across the entire educational continuum. As such, we forge and nurture effective partnerships among key stakeholders in every community—K-12, higher education, government, community organizations, and businesses—to substantially improve the expectations, practices, and policies that drive student success at scale.

Focus on What Works. We believe that students, especially those from low-income communities, deserve to receive high-quality, proven or promising interventions that advance their educational and career aspirations.  Effective systems of change management must embrace research and evaluation so that the best innovations to achieve college readiness are known, shared, replicated with fidelity and evaluated.


Our History

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Established in 1999 by the Ford and W.K. Kellogg Foundations, our founding mandate was to strengthen the pathway to college for underserved students through systemic partnerships between K-12 districts, colleges and universities, businesses and employers, community-based organizations, and government at all levels. 

Our founding coincided with the creation of the federally-funded Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program, and we began working with the U.S. Department of Education to provide professional development for the GEAR UP community. Since then, the program has flourished nationally, and our professional development events have grown from a few hundred participants to over 3,000 people per year. 

In 2017, we transitioned to an association which reinvigorated our founding principles. Led by expert practitioners and thought leaders, our community  is expanding educational opportunities in thousands of schools nationwide and transforming the nation in the process.