2015 GEAR UP National Conference Wrap Up

 July 19-22, 2015 San Francisco, California

The 2015 GEAR UP Annual Conference took take place July 19–22, 2015 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California.  The Annual Conference actualized the theme: Together we Rise and featured five plenary sessions, approximately 135 concurrent sessions, and a variety of pre- and post-conference events.


“Awesome NCCEP conference this year. My team was fully Engaged, Excited and Energized! The California delegation is mobilized to excel and prove why GEAR UP is the most effective college readiness program in the nation.  We will be sharing what we learned at the conference, focused on improving service to schools, students and families throughout our State.”
 Shelley Davis, Director

California GEAR UP
At the conference, California GEAR UP convened the second ever meeting of all the GEAR UP programs across the state, now called the California Partnership Initiative. The California Partnership Initiative (CPI) is a project of the California State GEAR UP Program. Since 1999, the California State program has enjoyed working in collaboration with GEAR UP partnership projects to reach our mutual goals: increasing college and career readiness for low income students and improving the college going culture in schools.  CPI was formalized at the National GEAR UP conference in Washington, DC in July 2014 and continued at the national conference this year. The CPI planning committee was formed and representatives from the partnership projects met again at the NCCEP CBW in Philadelphia in February 2015. This initiative brings together the 19 active partnership projects and the state grant to strengthen our efforts for ALL students throughout California.
California GEAR UP was recognized this year as a leading program for both innovation and quality services, which was on display at a multitude of sessions from Parent Engagement in conjunction with PIQE to National GEAR UP week, to Common Core strategies, and the amazing work of Vista Preps focus on student teacher relationships.
“The conference was a wonderful reminder of the power of community.  Our leadership team was met with a warm welcome by GEAR UP personnel at every turn, whose genuine interest lies within their hearts as seen through their actions.  We were able to share ideas, which when  coupled with a genuine sharing of like-minded people whose focus is all the same allows one to come away with the architecture for the labor of passion that provides support to move mountains.”
Isaac Scharaga
Vista Preparatory Academy Principal/Conference Presenter
“In the spirit of Ranjit Sidhu, President and CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, my reflections from the conference align with the his words on conference theme “we must celebrate our impact and rich history as a social movement, but at the same time, strive for even greater heights.” With the conference theme of unity: Together We Rise, the conference did inspire and motivate through speakers like Mary Mazzio and Sal Khan.”
Kay Coelho
California GEAR UP
One of the highlights of the conference every year is the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy. In order to better support the GEAR UP mission nationwide, the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) created the GUALA program to show the GEAR UP dream actualized.  GUALA works to advance college and career readiness in communities by providing 12 months of training for Alumni Leaders on topics related to peer-to-peer outreach and mentoring, social media engagement, public speaking, and education policy. It’s really cool to see the academy members talk about their struggles and demonstrate their resiliency.
Sean Brennan
California GEAR UP
The GEAR UP Youth Congress is a youth leadership program that implements a student-focused curriculum, blending leadership development with life skills and strategies for increased learning. Offered during the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference each July, GEAR UP students who participate in the Youth Congress have the opportunity to experience a professional conference while interacting and learning with other students from around the country.

“The experience was great! I am a HUGE
fan of GEAR UP and would like to thank
everyone who made this possible. I may
have only been here a few days but the
experience will stay with me forever!
Hope I’m invited again.”

— Youth Congress 10th Grader

As in past conferences, we were all exhausted from the extensive professional development, collegially working with other GEAR UP professionals, and learning more about effective practices from programs across the country. Now we return to our own organization to share what we learned and to be more effective in the powerful work we do every day.


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