National GEAR UP Week 2014 Open Thread

Monday September 22, 2014

NGUW Fattah



Join educators and policymakers all over the nation in celebrating the GEAR UP students, families, educators, and our many partners that work tirelessly to make higher education possible for so many. Join the campaign by:

  • Share the Congressman Fattah’s Video and Secretary Duncan’s Letter locally. Link to the Congressman’s Youtube video and download Secretary Duncan’s letter (see below) for use in your local campaign–let’s get the word out at all levels!

duncan letter nguw

  • Getting social on Twitter and Facebook. Ask your students, teammates, and partners to let the world know what GEAR UP means to them on social media. We’ll be sharing why we love GEAR UP every day and want to hear from you too! Be sure to use the hashtags #iheartGEARUP and #GEARUPworks and follow us at @CAGEARUP and @edpartnerships and on Facebook.

 Updated 9:16pm


Richfield Elementary School coordinated the celebration of its 100th anniversary with students, staff, and community for National GEAR UP week.  In the spirit of academic excellence, Mrs. Spannaus was awarded her plaque for 2013/2014 teacher of the year.  Later that evening, students were challenged to GEAR UP for the school’s 100th annual spelling bee.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.25.27 PMElk Grove Unified School District Resolution Supporting National GEAR UP Week in California and in Elk Grove. Elk Grove Unified and California GEAR UP has one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the history of GEAR UP going back nearly 15 years.

Updated September 23, 2014


Tincher Preparatory in Long Beach celebrated NGUW with a college door decorating contest, spirit day, and  college vocabulary and college goal setting activities.

March Madness Hudson

Hudson Middle School enjoyed some ‘March Madness’ fun for NGUW as well as door decorating contests and DREAM Wall activities.


The Accelerated School had a blast preparing a DREAM Wall banner.

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Jones Junior High in Baldwin, Park has activities scheduled for EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK!

Updated 9/24/14


In collaboration with local leadership from the Walmart Mi Futuro program, Vista Preparatory Academy is celebrating National GEAR UP Week with a guest presentation from Officer Macintosh of the California Highway Patrol.  Officer Macintosh covered a range of topics including the postsecondary education and training required to serve in local, state, and federal law enforcement.  Vista students left with a better understanding of criminal justice administration and Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), and the local colleges and universities that offer such career pathways.

Updated 9/24/14 3:53pm

CDE certificate

We received a letter of recognition from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today! “Superintendent Torlakson continues to be a champion of education in California. The California State GEAR UP program extends appreciation for the letter of recognition for National GEAR UP Week from the Superintendent.” ~Shelley Davis, Director

Updated 9/25/14 11:24pm

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The 8th grade class at Shasta Lake School spent National GEAR UP Week at Shasta College exploring technical career pathways.  Students received college and career presentations from law enforcement, truckers, technology support, state, and local government officials.

Updated Updated 9/26/14

Valley NGUW2014

Valley High School GEAR UP staff honored NGUW 2014 and the 10th Grade GEAR UP cohort by playing the girls basketball team….and won!

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Hudson Middle School in Long Beach hosted an A-G relay race and “I Love GEAR UP” photo contest!
“Many thanks to California Assemblyman Roger Dickinson for the resolution recognizing National GEAR UP Week in California.  We appreciate his leadership in the State Assembly, for our program and his efforts for educators, students and families across California.”  ~Shelley Davis, Director

Congressman Fattah Kicks Off National GEAR UP Week

Fattah NGUW 2013

(click to play)

Happy National GEAR UP Week!

Today we kick off a week-long celebration of GEAR UP’s successes.  You work hard every day to make sure low-income, minority and first-generation students (and their families) get an equal opportunity to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and beyond.  Now, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishments and be recognized for the progress that we’ve made together because #GEARUPworks!

Join Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) as he kicks off this national celebration to raise awareness about GEAR UP in our communities, and stay tuned for updates from GEAR UP sites across the country!

We will keep you updated here on the blog as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Please feel free to post pictures and Tweet updates to us all week long! Use #GEARUPworks when posting.

I heart GU Campaign

In addition, we launched our ‘I HEART GU’ campaign last week in order to let supports know how they feel simply by sharing a photo. Download the pdf file I love GEAR UP and you can participate just by Tweeting us or posting a photo of anyone holding the ‘I HEART GU’ on our Facebook page.. #GEARUPworks


Federal Commission Releases Study on Education Equity



The Equity and Education Commission, which held hearings in major U.S. cities over the past three years, released its final report, “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence.” The report examines disparities in educational opportunities that give rise to achievement gaps and recommends ways to address those inequalities.

The Commission is the brainchild of Congressmen Fattah (D-PA) and Mike Honda (D-CA) who through their work on the House Appropriations Committee secured funding for the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to establish the Commission.

“The Commission’s final report represents a significant milestone in the historic effort to close the achievement gap between rich and poor school districts – as well as among schools within a given district, that has plagued our nation’s public education system,” Fattah said.

The commision made recommendations in these areas:

Equitable school finance: States should publicly report what is needed in the way of teaching staff, programs, services, and funding to provide a meaningful education to all students. States should also ensure that sufficient money is available, develop models for using technology in classrooms, and promote high-quality programs for special-needs students. The federal government should provide incentives to states to reduce the number of schools with high concentrations of poverty and seek to expand their authority to intervene in school-equity issues.

Improved teachers, leaders, and curricula: States should better compensate teachers, and increase selectivity and effectiveness of teacher training. The federal government should create a major new grant program to help states address improvements the teacher pipeline. (California GEAR UP is a proud statewide asset to teacher training and capacity building.)

Expanding high-quality early education: States should expand early education so that, within 10 years, every low-income student has access to high-quality preschool. And the federal government should provide some funds for this.

Mitigating poverty’s effects: States, in partnership with the federal government, should adopt dropout-prevention programs and other alternative-education opportunities for at-risk students. (GEAR UP is a innovative and locally based federal program working in areas where poverty affects students the most.)

Tackling accountability and governance: States should develop mechanisms to intervene when districts and schools are in fiscal crisis.

Dropout Nation commented the report was had some missing areas in their blog today:

Meanwhile there is plenty that the commission has left out. While it touches on old-school parent involvement approaches, it fails to acknowledge the importance of Parent Trigger laws in seven states that, along with other measures, are allowing families to lead the turnaround of schools in their own neighborhoods. The commission also fails to consider the development of online and blended learning, which is increasingly allowing families and communities to take control of the teaching and curricula their kids are provided. Even the commission’s dismissal of mayoral control as not being a “panacea” (as if anything created by man ever is) ignores the myriad failings of the traditional district model, and ignores its own point that the school boards that operate it (which end up being servile to NEA and AFT locals), do a poor job of allowing taxpayers and families to play real decision-making roles in education.

The report concludes the commission’s work, which begs the question that Education Week asked on their K-12 Politics Blog: What happens now to these recommendations?

The report hangs its hat on many ideas, however, that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives oppose—such as new programs and protected funding streams for at-risk populations. So it’s unclear just how much traction these ideas would have. What’s more, in some states, adopting more-equitable school finance would probably mean spending more money—at a time when additional cash is still scarce as states climb out of the hole from the recent recession. Equity battles have been raging in state courts for years. Indicative of the challenge of revamping school finance system, the report says, “There is disagreement about exactly how to change the system…”

Eric Hanushek, a Stanford University professor on the commission, said he was glad the report wasn’t just about money. “Twenty years ago, you could well have seen a commission saying ‘Oh, if we just put more money and invest more in our schools, we’re going to be okay,'” he said. “We have to make sure resources are effectively used, and up until now there have been various people arguing various parts of that statement in isolation.”

The next steps are unclear. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stressed that this commission is independent from official department business. “This is not an easy labor of love,” he said. “We asked them … to tell us the truth.”

The report didn’t have recommendations on funding or next steps.


Shelley Davis Speaks at Capitol Hill GEAR UP Briefing

On Tuesday July 24, members of the GEAR UP community held a briefing on capitol hill entitled: GEAR UP: The College Access Program that Drives Education and Economic Success in Your Community. The briefing, hosted by NCCEP, was convened to share success stories and to learn why GEAR UP is widely viewed as the most effective solution for increasing academic achievement, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and economic development in high poverty communities.


Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA‐2)

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (TX‐15)

Lisa Brady Gill, Texas Instruments (invited)

Shelley Davis, Director, California GEAR UP

Hector Garza, Alumnus from Texas Region One ESC GEAR UP

Joshua Sparks, Alumnus from GEAR UP Kentucky

Nathan R. Monell, Executive Director, NCCEP (Moderator)

As one of the featured speakers, California GEAR UP Director Shelley Davis shared the success of GEAR UP in California and also how GEAR UP is addressing the state’s education challenges. Here is an excerpt:

In our state, the challenges for achieving educational equity are unprecedented. Funding for K-12 public schools remains a critical challenge while tuition and fees for postsecondary education continues to rise. The nearly four million students who are Latino or African-American have a 1 in 20 chance of graduating from a California public university. Clearly, our prosperity is dependent on us changing these odds. With an increasingly diverse student population and an ever widening achievement gap, the GEAR UP mandate to serve low-income students in high poverty communities – most of whom are African-American and Latino –positions us to address this challenge 24 hours a day every day.

In California, GEAR UP funds have supported the State grant and over 50 partnership projects since 1999. The California State grant was funded for its third six-year cycle on October 1, 2011. Working in partnership with other college access programs and initiatives, our program goal is: Develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a statewide network of support for adults — counselors, faculty, school leaders and families —who influence middle school students.

We believe that with enhanced organizational capacity, schools will be able to educate all students to the high levels of mastery required for college admission and graduation as well as for the increasingly technological world where the contributions of graduates are needed for both individual and societal benefit.

The briefing included testimony from student alumnus and representatives Fattah and Hinojosa, all sharing the power and impact GEAR UP has and continues to have across the country in creating a college-going culture.

For more information on GEAR UP success stories, check out the GEAR UP Works! blog prepared by NCCEP.

GEAR UP National Conference 2012

Greetings from Washington, DC where we are attending the 2012 GEAR UP National Conference. This year the conference is packed with exciting sessions and will feature GEAR UP programs visiting with their local elected representatives on Tuesday afternoon.
At the conference, GEAR UP practitioners will have the opportunity to learn from the U.S. Department of Education, NCCEP staff, foundation and corporate partners, and each other. The majority of concurrent sessions are led directly by GEAR UP professionals sharing their strongest programs, most successful partnerships, and best institutional practices. The event also serves as an important gathering for all college access professional – sparticularly those who coordinate their efforts with GEAR UP programs; and local, state, and federal policy makers who want to learn more about creating and sustaining K–16 education/community collaboratives designed to improve public education and promote student success.
Another highlight of the conference will be a capitol hill briefing on Tuesday, July 24 entitled:  GEAR UP: The College Access Program that Drives Education and Economic Success in Your Community. The briefing is hosted by Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA-2) and Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (TX‐15) and will feature our very own California GEAR UP Director, Shelley Davis as one of the invited speakers.
GEAR UP was honored to have U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak at the Monday afternoon Plenary Session where he recognized GEAR UP students, thanked the GEAR UP community for their important work and answered questions from the audience.  Secretary Duncan confirmed the critical role of GEAR UP in ensuring low income, minority and first generation students have access to higher education.
With the generous support of Texas Instruments, NCCEP partnered with the well-respected team at GEAR UP for Excellence to lead and deliver this year’s inaugural Youth Congress. Nearly 100 students participated in 3 days of a student-focused curriculum that blended leadership development with life skills and strategies for increased learning.  The Youth Congress culminated with a presentation by the group on Wednesday morning, July 25 to a packed ballroom. Their personal stories were powerful displays of how they are overcoming their day-to-day challenges.
Here are some ideas on how to get the most out of the conference this year:
  • Help make the conference dynamic: participate and ask questions during sessions and share your successes.
  • Attend panels and workshops you wouldn’t normally attend, you will be surprised how this sparks new thinking.
  • Connect and converse: get to know fellow GEAR UP community members and learn about their program.
  • Take pictures and post on your GEAR UP Facebook page. Tweet about what you are learning!
  • Take notes and collect resources like business cards and sponsor materials.
  • Follow up-to-the-minute conference news and information on Twitter by following us @cagearup and #hashtags: #GEARUPworks #NCCEP2012 #GEARUP
  • Have fun and see the city!
Let us know if you are attending the conference or have additions to how to better enjoy the conference.
For a slideshow of pictures from the conference, check this out.

Reps. Fattah, Honda Hail Launch of “Equity and Excellence”


WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressmen Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Michael Honda (D-CA), the leading Congressional advocates for school funding equity, hailed the Department of Education’s appointment today of Commissioners who will launch and serve on the Equity and Excellence Commission.

The commission, first proposed and advanced by the two Congressmen in 2009, has been tasked with studying, and recommending solutions to, inequitable school finance systems and their effect on student achievement.

“This commission comes at a critical time in our fiscal history as a nation.  Now, more than ever, we are compelled to use scarce public resources efficiently and effectively,” said Fattah, an innovator and advocate for education reform who proposed the Commission concept at a meeting with the President on Feb. 26, 2009. “We know that there is no more prudent investment in the nation’s growth and prosperity than the education of our young people.”

Fattah, from Philadelphia, praised the work of Equity Commissioner Eric Hanushek, a Hoover Institution Fellow, who calculated that simply increasing the educational attainment of the nation’s lowest performing students would add $72 trillion to GDP, as well as a 2009 McKinsey report that found that the achievement gap has the economic effect of a permanent recession.

“The proof is there: Educational achievement will key our economic recovery,” Fattah said. “This is more than a question of fairness and equity, this is about the nation’s economic future.”

The Equity Commission is charged with collecting data, analyzing issues and obtaining broad public input on strategies for the federal government to increase educational opportunity by improving school funding equity. It will also make recommendations for restructuring school finance systems to achieve equity in resources and further student performance, especially for students at the lower end of the achievement gap.

For a list of the members of the commission announced today, and to read the entire press release, please visit Rep. Fattah’s website HERE.

Congressman Fattah will be a keynote speaker at the free California GEAR UP Community Conferences taking place on March 1 and March 8 throughout California. Register online now!

Congressman Chaka Fattah to speak at NCAN Conference

National College Access Network (NCAN) announced Congressman Fattah as the featured speaker for the Awards of Excellence Luncheon on Monday, October 11, 2010.

Congressman Fattah, Representative for the 2nd District of Pennsylvania, is completing his 16th year in the U. S. House of Representatives.  He also serves as chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus and member of the House Appropriations Committee addressing the unique challenges of America’s urban communities and setting spending priorities of federal discretionary funds.

An early advocate for college access, Congressman Fattah is the architect for GEAR UP.  In the last ten years, GEAR UP distributed more than $3 billion to nearly 12 million students across the country.  He was also a chief sponsor of the American Opportunity Tax Credit Act, which provides tax credits for college expenses for students and their parents.  On a state level, he is the creator of the College Opportunity Resources for Education (CORE) initiative and founder of the Graduate Opportunity Initiative.

Before his election to United States Congress in 1994, Congressman Fattah served six years as a Representative in the Pennsylvania State House followed by six years as a Pennsylvania State Senator.  He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including 10 honorary doctorates and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fel’s Center of Government Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.  Time Magazine named him one of the 50 most promising leaders in the country.

You may also remember our post about Congressman Fattah during the GEAR UP National Conference this year. If you don’t, check out the video of the Congressman talking to our director Shelley Davis HERE.

For more information on the conference and to register, please visit the NCAN website.

Save the Date: National GEAR UP Day Announced for Sept. 30

September 30, 2010


Last year we celebrated the first annual National GEAR UP Day which marked 10 years of successful and transformative college access programs across the country. This year we are pleased to announce National GEAR UP Day will be celebrated on September 30, 2010.

GEAR UP schools and partnerships celebrated in a number of ways:

  • Dinners and luncheons hosting local elected officials and GEAR UP community supporters.
  • Letter writing campaign announcing 10 years of GEAR UP to your community and politicians
  • Creation of a “GEAR UP Dreams Wall” to share students college aspirations
  • National GEAR UP Day poster contest where students design a poster for this event with a gift certificate to a bookstore as the prize.

We will provide comprehensive coverage of National GEAR UP Day activities as they transpire. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

Let us know how you plan to celebrate National GEAR UP Day!

Day 1: LiveBlog 2010 National GEAR UP Conference *UPDATE*

Today kicked off the first day of one of the largest conferences of college access and education professionals in the entire country.  Among many highlights of the opening session, Congressman Chaka Fattah, the author of the original GEAR UP legislation, spoke about the importance of “Investing in smart kids, not just smart bombs.” See the video interview of the congressman on our Twitter feed:

The Honorable Martha Kanter, Under Secretary, US Department of Education added further support for GEAR UP and similar innovative programs across the country. Highlights of her speech include:

“GEAR UP supports the President’s vision of having the worlds most educated workforce by 2020…the work of GEAR UP has never mattered more.”

“Education is the premier civil rights issue of our time.”

“GEAR UP along with other complementary programs and key collaborations…a whole community comes to the table in support of Secretary Duncan’s ‘Cradle to Career’ agenda.”

Dr. Kanter bolstered the crowd with her words and further supported GEAR UP’s mission.

Dr. Kanter shared the importance of institutionalizing what we know that is working with GEAR UP.  Their efforts are guided by the goal of President Obama for America: to have the best educated workforce in the world by 2020. Dr. Kanter is personally motivated by the acknowledgment of our President that “education is the civil rights issue of our time.”

Shelley Davis Director, CA GEAR UP

Other speakers include NCCEP International President Hector Garza, Laura Rendon, Weiya Liang, and California’s own Shelley Davis.

The “Father of GEAR UP” Congressman Chaka Fattah, continues his reign as our champion in the House and now Chair of House Appropriations Committee. He shared encouraging news from President Obama as he continues to extol our program success. The Congressman graciously acknowledged the presence of the delegation from Mexico, including comments celebrating GEAR UP expansion in the international community under Dr. Garza’s leadership. Words of wisdom: “Ignorance is far more costly than education”.

Shelley Davis Director, CA GEAR UP

Follow us on Twitter for up to the minute happenings and to see the great video of Congressman Fattah talk about California GEAR UP.

The lunch plenary was punctuated with an award for Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa for his outstanding support for GEAR UP. He was unable to make it due to flooding in his home district, but his staff accepted on his behalf presented by Roberto Rodriguez of the President’s Domestic Policy Council.


Many of the morning and afternoon breakout sessions on the first day have included:

  • Customizable online education communities with EduGuide.
  • Vermont Student Assistance Corp: career and college planning resources for middle and high school students, as well as adults. Includes scholarships and grants.
  • Oregon GEAR UP Principal Leadership Program in conjunction with Education Partnerships Inc. shares leadership strategies for principals in 12 clusters with systematic, school-wide, and local site planning to create a sustainable school culture.
  • The awesome staff at Wooster High School in Reno, NV shared how they engaged families and parents throughout the community through detailed engagement plans, resources such as EdLine, Connect Ed, and Infinite Campus, use of bilingual community reps, mentoring programs, and engaging community parters as key collaborators.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens presented by Franklin-Covey. The training attended by mostly students talked much about taking control of teens lives, improving relationships, finding balance, and long term planning.
  • SAISD GEAR UP advanced mathematics coursework to prepare students for college. Concepts from Agile Mind.


We also had a chance to meet with many of the gallery presenters such as:

Check back soon as we continue to update. Let us know what you think!