This year marked the 15th anniversary of GEAR UP and the annual conference was held in Washington DC July 20-23, 2014. The purpose of this conference is to highlight the importance of education/community partnerships and the accomplishments of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). This conference also serves to facilitate the forging of new alliances among faculty, to help attendees learn about other federal and foundation-sponsored college awareness efforts, to learn about other academic and student support programs, and to find new ways to engage local communities, businesses and professional associations in the work of GEAR UP partnerships. The conference is especially relevant to education practitioners, business leaders and policymakers who wish to learn more about creating and sustaining education collaboratives that can help improve public education and promote student academic achievement.
It was a great opportunity to network and connect with GEAR UP programs/projects around the county. I really appreciated the big picture scope of the work and mission of NCCEP. -Bernadette Ramirez, California GEAR UP
Attendees addended breakout session based on their areas of work and interest. California GEAR UP presented at four different sessions and was excited to share the success across California.
The daily speakers were amazing and reminded us of our purpose and the necessity of all of our contributions. I left centered and reminded that there people all across the nation working with students to create pathways that provide equal access to higher education. -Crystal Robinson, California GEAR UP.
The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) is a new initiative launched by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships with support from the national GEAR UP community and funding from The Kresge Foundation. The GUALA is a 12-month program designed to train and engage GEAR UP alumni in advocacy and leadership, and work toward creating positive change in education policy for their younger peers. The GUALA will select 30 GEAR UP Alumni Leaders annually from across the country and grow the program to one per state over time. Stephani Ruiz, GUALA class 2014 shared her conference experience with us:
“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” -Aristotle. That is exactly what I saw at the national Gear Up conference. I saw many speakers, students, and presenters who all said the same thing. Education is hard, but if you keep at it, you can achieve! I tell my students that quote every time they feel discouraged and I tell myself that every single time I feel like quitting. I am a first generation student and for me my education journey was very challenging, but so worth it! I am near the end of my undergraduate journey and there have been times that I have wanted to quit, but my mentors have encouraged me to keep fighting. I am so thankful that GUALA has given me the same opportunity to encourage and help future leaders that are struggling to that they are worth it. I love what Gear Up has done to my community. Gear Up has been a huge part of my life and I am just so thankful that the roots may be bitter, but the fruit, is just so much more sweeter!
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) touted the progress of a college preparation program he helped bring into being 15 years ago, and announced that the annual GEAR UP convention would come to Philadelphia next year. And he did it while recording his own remarks through Google Glass. (If you want to see what it’s like to deliver a speech to a conference, see the video ). Fattah, of Philadelphia, sponsored the creation of GEAR UP during the Clinton administration, helping found a program that prepares low-income students for college. In his speech at the program’s annual convention last week, Fattah said it had now aided 13 million young people. Quoting former President Clinton’s comments at the 1998 bill signing, Fattah said, “we want our young people to have every opportunity to live and achieve their dreams.”