A Dream Realized: Stories From the National Conference

NCCEP 2014

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.

GUALA

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!

Fattah Google

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.”

One aspect of the conference many attendees were excited about was visiting with their local members of congress as part of ‘Hill Visits’. GEAR UP practitioners spent weeks leading up to their capitol trip scheduling appointments with not only members of congress but also their education staff to share the accomplishments of GEAR UP in their districts. California GEAR UP staff met with Congressman Adam Schiff (D., CA) and invited him to visit our local GEAR UP schools in his district.
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Did you attend this year? What what your experience?
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New Online Toolkit to Help Educators Explain Common Core

 

toolkit

SACRAMENTO—Educators and school districts now have a new free toolkit to help them spread the word about how the Common Core State Standards are remodeling California’s education system to better prepare students for college and careers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

“As students and teachers head back to school they will be experiencing exciting changes in California education, including a new way of teaching and learning through the Common Core,” Torlakson said. “Now educators have additional help in dispelling the mystery and concerns of families about this transition with a new communications toolkit created with the help of several major education groups in the state.”

Explaining Common Core to Californians: A Communications Toolkit” is an online resource created with the help of the California Department of Education, State Board of Education, Californians Dedicated to Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, California State PTA®, California School Boards Association, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teaches AFT/AFL-CIO, Association of California School Administrators, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the nonprofit FrameWorks.

The resource is a collection of research, recommendations, and sample communications designed to help educators increase their own and the public’s understanding of the kinds of instruction, testing, and support needed to fulfill the potential of the Common Core. For example, educators can download printable message cards that provide metaphors to help them explain Common Core, talking points to help them describe what Common Core does, frequently asked questions on challenging topics, tips on how to use social media, sample letters to parents, and a Common Core video.

Californians Dedicated to Education also will hold a series of Webinars to provide an overview of the Communications Toolkit and practical tips on how to use it with a special focus on back-to-school messaging. Click on the links below to register for the free Webinars. Advanced registration is required. For more information, contact Caitlin Lawrence-Toombs at caitlin@glenpricegroup.com or 510-528-1558:

The State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics in 2010. Standards define the knowledge, concepts, and skills students should acquire at each grade level. The new standards provide a practical way to prepare students for the challenges of a constantly changing world by helping them learn step-by-step the real world skills they need for college and careers. The Common Core provides all students, no matter where they live or where they were born, a world-class education that’s consistent from school to school so they will graduate ready to contribute to the state and nation. It also replaces the state’s outdated ways of learning with a clear focus on the key knowledge and skills students need while providing teachers the time to teach the standards well.

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The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education Web site or by mobile device. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

 

Start the New School Year Off With a Plan to Save for College

 

kids scholarshare

New classes, new teachers and reunions with old friends make the beginning of the school year an exciting time for students and parents. But also a time to remember that for many families, college is just around the corner and saving money now will pay off later. Saving early helps ease the burden of rising tuition and living expenses and makes it more likely your child will attend. A great way to save is by opening or contributing to a ScholarShare account. ScholarShare, California’s 529 College Savings Plan, can provide parents and relatives – anyone saving for a child’s college education – with valuable tax advantages.

ScholarShare is proud to be partners with GEAR-UP, so we can work together to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college.

According to a 2012 survey by Hart Research Associates, 84 percent of parents considered it “very important” that their children attend college, but not many had started saving.  ScholarShare, which was named one of the nine best 529 plans in the nation by Morningstar, a prominent ratings agency, is administered by the state of California and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.  Named for the section of the internal revenue code under which they were created, 529 plans offer families a tax-advantaged way to save for college.

scholarshare logo

 

Some of the benefits of the ScholarShare plan include:

  • Accounts can be opened with as little as $25;
  • A wide variety of low-cost investment options are offered;
  • There are no annual account maintenance fees;
  • Potential earnings are tax-free if used for qualified higher education expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, and certain room and board costs;
  • Funds may be used at eligible educational institutions nationwide, and some abroad;
  • Anyone can contribute to the account, making it a great gift idea for family and friends for special occasions.

To learn more or to open an account, visit www.scholarshare.com or call 1-800-544-5248. Like ScholarShare on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scholarshare529 and follow us on Twitter at @ScholarShare529.

Preparing for college academically and financially can help keep students on the path toward success.

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Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan. Please visit www.scholarshare.com for a Program Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state you or your Beneficiary reside in or have taxable income in has a 529 plan that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax. Non-qualified withdrawals may also be subject to an additional 2.5% California tax on earnings. Investments in the Program are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. The ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan Twitter and Facebook pages are managed by the state of California. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., Plan Manager