Northern Sustainability Schools Collaborate at Forum


(Shelley Davis pictured above welcoming the schools)

California GEAR UP Northern California Sustainability (CSP) schools met a the Berkeley Marina DoubleTree to work on the following outcomes:

Leadership Teams will:

  • Engage in a Professional Learning Community by participating in professional readings and dialogue
  • Debrief School-wide SSAR conversations, pre-survey and facilitation
  • Revisit Sustainability & determine next implementation steps
  • Identify the evidence of growth in the SSAR Conditions
  • Sharing Best Strategies: Successful Intervention Strategies & Support for Struggling Students

The Continuing Sustainability Project develops and implements long-term strategies to maintain the active participation of middle schools with California GEAR UP and to chart the sustainability of program initiatives towards the development of a college-going culture. Many of our CSP school have been with us for 5 years and are in the culminating stages of their sustainability plans.

Collaboration is key in creating a sustained college-going reform effort in your school. We applaud all of our schools for their continued effort in rethinking what schools can be!!

For more information on our sustainability program, please visit our website.

It’s Time for California GEAR UP Education Trust Awards!


GEAR UP Schools!  It is time to select students from your middle school to become Education Trust Award recipients for the 2009-2010 school year.  Schools will receive their packet of forms at the Forums/CSP Workshops along with the  number of awards from their Regional Coordinator.


  • All GEAR UP Leadership Teams must submit a selection process for nominating students to their Regional Coordinator
  • All GEAR UP schools must have an awards ceremony or celebration for awardees and alternates
  • All nominated students must have a valid Social Security Number and be a current middle school student


  • Selection Form and Student Participation Forms must be submitted to the Commission no later than March 19, 2009
  • Announcement of awards will be made by April 23, 2010

All forms should be mailed to:

California Student Aid Commission


P.O. Box 419029

Rancho Cordova, CA.  95741-9029

If you have any questions please e-mail: or call (916) 479-6742

Please visit the Education Trust Awards page here for an sample ETA process, frequently asked questions, and pictures of past recipients.

Let us know what you are doing at in your leadership teams to prepare for the awards and how you expect to celebrate your awards ceremony.

~We want to hear from you!~

Doing What Works: Turning Around Low Performing Schools

New for our ‘Courageous Conversation’ and ‘Discussion’ catagories:


Our friends over at WestEd (thanks Sanjay) shared with us a great multi-media site that is a wonderful clearinghouse for research based education practices online. This site is a joint venture lead by the Department of Education to create an online library of resources that may help teachers, schools, districts, states and technical assistance providers implement research-based instructional practice.

What we at GEAR UP particularly like about this site is the well produced videos, slideshows, and information under each topic. It is hard to think of another website that has as much information and is as user friendly as Doing What Works.

One example that fits nicely into the organizational capacity building efforts of California GEAR UP is the topic of ‘Turning Around Chronically Low Performing Schools”. It has an easy to implement step-by-step process with multimedia presentation that makes it easy to share at Leadership Team meetings.

Check it out:

Signaling the Need for Dramatic Change With Strong Leadership

Here are the recommended best practices with video:

Here, from the California GEAR UP Community, we present proven practices, thought provokers, walk the talk, and other exemplary stories and articles of information for you to peruse. The idea is to stimulate or reframe the conversation during the next meeting in the teachers lounge, lunch break, supervision duty, staff meeting, conference or professional development or other gathering of your committed colleagues.

Share your thoughts, ideas, comments, or just give us a thumbs ‘up’ or ‘down’.

We want to hear from you.

O’Connell Announces LEA’s will Partner for Race to the Top

State Schools Chief O’Connell and Secretary of
Education Thomas Announce Hundreds of Local Educational
Agencies Intend to Participate in Race to the Top

There is tremendous momentum in California to make the systemic changes to improve our public education system called for in the Race to the Top, OConnell said. I am very pleased that more than half of the public school students in our state will get the direct benefit of our reform work by attending a school that is participating in Race to the Top.”

The competitive grant program is designed to encourage and reward states and LEAs that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform with a specific focus in four core areas:

  • Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace;
  • Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals;
  • Building data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practices; and
  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools.

The Race to the Top grant presents a significant opportunity for statewide engagement in fundamental reforms needed to accelerate growth in student achievement.  As a statewide program, our mission statement for “Academic Excellence and College Access for ALL Students” is clearly aligned with the goals of this grant. California GEAR UP is pleased to join with the many citizens and organizations focused on providing the opportunity for ALL children to reach their potential.

For more information on this partnership and to read the CDE press release, go here.

Let us know if you are involved in the partnership seeking these funds, we would like to hear from you.

UCLA Report: Civil Rights Imperative for Increasing College Enrollment


Interventions to Support Readiness, Recruitment, Access,
Transition, and Retention for Postsecondary Education Success:
An Equity of Opportunity Policy and Practice Analysis

Recognition is growing about the public health and civil rights imperative for reducing the high rate of school dropouts. However, too little policy attention is paid to enhancing equity of opportunity for those transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood by increasing enrollment and success in postsecondary education.

Previous policy and practice reports from the Center at UCLA have provided analyses indicating that reducing dropouts, increasing graduation rates, and closing the achievement gap require more than improving preK-12 instruction and enhancing school management. In doing so, those analyses clarified fundamental flaws in prevailing school improvement policies and practices for addressing barriers to learning and teaching and recommended transformative changes.

This new report extends the earlier work by analyzing postsecondary education. Given concerns about diversity and the degree to which some subgroups are underrepresented in postsecondary education, the report stresses that it is essential to use the lenses of equity of opportunity and social justice in rethinking postsecondary education policies and practices. Using these lenses, the report focuses on interventions for improving K-12 in ways that reduce dropouts and improve readiness for postsecondary education, programs for bolstering recruitment and access, and efforts to facilitate transition and retention; recommendations for a shift in policy to enhance equity of opportunity are offered. The work is particularly timely given the increasing calls for enhancing enrollment in and completion of postsecondary education programs and for ensuring inclusion of more and more students from subgroups that have been underrepresented for too long.

As the gateway for student access to post-secondary education, what can we do in middle schools now?

What are we already doing?

97 Ways to Save Money In College

penny pincher

Our friend Janet at MRI Technician schools wrote an excellent post on saving money while in college. Here is a sample of some of the great ideas:

6. Share entrees with a friend : Most restaurant portions are really big enough servings for 2 people anyways. Just make sure the establishment does not charge extra for taking such measures beforehand.

14. Eat at home : Sometimes, the cost of a meal for 2 at even a reasonably-priced restaurant can be used to feed 4-6 when the raw ingredients are purchased and taken home for preparation. Provided, of course, that one spends prudently while at the grocery store.

25. Share book expenses with trusted friends in the same class : Figure out the logistics and split the cost of textbooks with a trustworthy individual – bonus savings when buying used!

56. Take community college courses when feasible : Make sure to check transfer protocol beforehand, but taking core classes and occasional electives through a community college saves quite a bit of money than the same education through a major university. There is little to no disparity between the academics at one institution or the other, and some classes may be taken online for further savings.

97. The only worthwhile loan is a student loan : College is not the time to borrow significant amounts of money to buy a house or boat or car, start a business, or anything else requiring a loan from the bank. If a loan becomes an absolute necessity, use them only for tuition and other school-related costs. In this case, the debt is entirely warranted and understandable.

Make sure to visit the full list HERE in order to take in some smart ideas. The site also has great information on healthcare industry schools and careers as well creating a collaborative environment within the neuro-science, psychology, health and other related fields.

Thanks Janet!

Gov. Schwarzenegger Visits Rosa Parks

Screen shot 2010-01-06 at 4.55.50 PM

The Governor held a press conference with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at Rosa Parks, a local California GEAR UP Middle School. They met with eight graders and announced efforts to go after federal Race to the Top Funds.

When interviewed after the press conference, Sacramento Count Schools Superintendent Dave Gordon said ‘Nothing rises above putting the very best teachers and leaders in our schools’.

As a California GEAR UP School, Rosa Parks has made the choice to pursue academic and instructional excellence at the school, using California GEAR UP tools and resources to achieve that goal.

To watch the full video, click here.

Rivera Middle School Has College Dreams

Rivera MS in Merced, CA recently shared some great pictures of their GEAR UP Dream Wall. On National GEAR UP Day, Rivera students wrote a college or career related dream on a post-it note and discussed with their classes. They then walked to the gym and posted their dream with the entire student body on the Dream Wall. A powerful message when you see the wall and all of the dreams together.

Special Thanks to Principal Brian Ferguson and the GEAR UP Team!