DOE Announces GEAR UP Funding

Today, the Department of Education released the FY2011 slate of states and partnerships that will receive funding from the federal GEAR UP program. GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, delivers college access and readiness services to low-income, primarily first generation students for a 6 or 7-year period, starting no later than 7th grade. GEAR UP serves approximately 750,000 students each year, and helps students achieve at or above grade level standards, understand the college admissions process including financial aid, and graduate high school prepared for college-level coursework. Nationally, GEAR UP students apply and enroll in post-secondary education at a higher rate than their peers.

This announcement is shared by those of us in California with mixed emotions. Welcome to new and returning grantees. To those who will no longer be of service as a GEAR UP grantee, know that we will miss the interaction and dialogue we have shared. We  hope our paths cross as we continue to press on in service to students, families and communities. There is much work to be done.

Sincerely- California GEAR UP

Of the 296 applications submitted in July, 19 states and 47 partnerships received funding. Although, the total number of 2011 awards is down significantly from the number expected, this is a consequence of partnership grants requesting larger sums of funding to serve larger cohorts of students. These GEAR UP grantees will be nurturing the next generation of college graduates, with many focusing on the Department of Education’s broader agenda of working with persistently lowest-achieving schools and developing strategies to use State longitudinal data systems to deliver reliable and comprehensive information on participant outcomes.

The FY11 slate comes on the heels of a $20 million cut to the GEAR UP program, negotiated during the Fiscal Year 2011 budget debate between Congress and the White House. The funding cut will eliminate more than 40,000 low-income students from the program, and many will have no other way to receive the supports they need to put them on track for postsecondary education.

In President Obama’s FY12 budget, he requests a $20 million increase for GEAR UP, restoring the program to the FY10 funding level. The House and Senate markups as of today indicate flat funding for FY12, with no restoration of funding lost in FY11.

RTI Announces GEAR UP Implementation Awards

In fall 2007, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) began design work for what is known as the Next Generation of GEAR UP Evaluations. In the summer of 2009, RTI issued a call for statements of interests from grantees on behalf of the department of ED for planning awards to develop proposals to evaluate short‐term outcomes of an innovative or promising practice in one of three priority areas:

1. services to support the transition of 8th-grade GEAR UP cohort members into high school and support for achieving 9th-grade success, such as a summer bridge program and/or intrusive 9th-grade support;

2. services to support the achievement of successful completion of grade- appropriate math, such as completion of Algebra I by the 9th grade or earlier by GEAR UP cohort members; and

3. services to support GEAR UP cohorts in high school, such as keeping them on track to graduate, supporting rigorous and advanced coursetaking, offering strategies for college matching, and providing financial aid counseling for students and families.

This initiative is to help build capacity among the grantees to engage in rigorous studies focused on program improvement. In March 2010, a total of 43 grantees submitted their full proposals. An external expert review panel reviewed them and recommended making 12 awards. ED approved these recommendations.

Here is a list of awardess:

-Northeastern Illinois University Chicago Teachers’ Center

Contact: Ms. Wendy M. Stack, w‐

-Western Michigan University.

Contacts: Dr. Nancy Van Kannel‐Ray, Nancy.VanKannel‐

-American Samoa Community College.

Contact: Mr. Roy Fua,

-Northern Arizona University.

Contact: Dr. Daniel Kain,

-Saturday Academy of Mathematics/Santa Ana College.

Contact: Dr. Lilia Tanakeyowma,

-Florida International University/South Dade Empowerment Zone.

Contact: Dr. Berrin Tansel,

-Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

Contact: Dr. Robert E. Feir,

-GEAR UP Richland School District 2/North Carolina/South Carolina Consortium Math Mastery Project (C2M2P).

Contact: Ms. Kristin Seay,

-Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

Contact: Mr. Robert Dais,

-Claflin University/21st Century Mathematics Acceleration Project.

Contact: Ms. Wilda J. Robinson,

-Memphis City Schools/BRIDGE Language Project.

Contact: Ms. Gwen Crawford‐Hayes,

-Houston Independent School District College Success for All.

Contact: Dr. Laurie Ballering,

For the full descriptions of each program, please visit the RTI site here. Congratulations to each of these amazing GEAR UP organizations for their continued dedication to student achievement and academic excellence.

Day 2: LiveBlog 2010 National GEAR UP Conference

Long time GEAR UP champion Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island received an award for Educational Achievement this morning and spoke about education reform efforts in his home state, including investment in community colleges and technical schools.

The key note speaker was Ruby Payne, best selling author of “A Framework for Understanding Poverty”. She shared her insights on the “hidden rules of poverty” as well as:

  • The knowledge that is taken for granted are the hidden rules of that socioeconomic class.
  • Characteristics that make generational poverty different from situational poverty.
  • Support systems that can be used in schools to help students of poverty.
  • Relationships are significant motivators in poverty and therefore can lead to achievement for students.

The highlight of the morning was the GEAR UP Parent Leadership Awards sponsored by CollegeEd.

More to come as the day unfolds. Looking forward to the lunch plenary as I understand there will be some surprises!


Sessions we attended today:

  • “How to get male students in college and keep them out of trouble” (hint: you involve them early in the college process)
  • “Self determination: A strategy for enhancing postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities.”  (hint: you prepare them for a non-structured environment and start early)
  • “Successful transitions from middle to high school”  (hint: use student academic-year clubs and articulation strategies)


The last function of the day is the Movie at 8, which premiered “El Juego Perfecto“. Based on a true story, in 1957 a ragtag, shoeless group of poor kids in Mexico shocked the world by winning 13 games in a row and won the Little League World Series. The encounter many adversities along the way to Williamsport, PA for the championship game. A really heartening movie that was attended by many. Check out the trailer HERE.

Education Trust Awards are a Hit at Porter Middle School

As Principal Robert Marks announced the California GEAR UP Education Trust Awards last night, excitement could be heard throughout the the large crowd gathered at Porter Middle School during the 2010 8th Grade Award’s Night. It was the first year Porter was to hand out ten $2,000 Education Trust Awards and the many hundreds present, including families, teachers, and students, were all impressed with this years Education Trust Awards recipients. The ETA awards were just a few of the many awards students received throughout the night.

This is historic. I have never witness so many scholarships of this amount given out in one year. Our students are already talking about them for next year.

-Porter Middle School Teacher

This year California GEAR UP gave 288 Trust Awards to middle grades students across California and 50 awards at Valley High School in Sacramento with the expectation that offering a monetary incentive to students will stimulate the entire family and school community to support his or her preparation for college.

How are you creating a college-going culture in your community??

Santa Ana GEAR UP Partnership Celebrates Trust Awards

The GEAR UP Santa Ana College GEAR UP Partnership is proud of the two intermediate school students, participants in Santa Ana College’s very successful Talent Search/TRIO program, who recently received State GEAR UP Educational Trust Awards. Santa Ana College recognized our two local recipients, Manuel Velasquez from Willard Intermediate, and Ricardo Franco from McFadden Intermediate, at their annual Santa Ana 2000 High School Scholarship Awards Ceremony on June 2nd.

“Although these students are not yet in high school, including them in this ceremony with high school graduates and at the college, communicates to them and their families that these youngsters are scholars who are on track to go to college,” said Dr. Lilia Tanakeyowma, Director of GEAR UP Santa Ana.

Mr. Velasquez said “I am proud of my son and know he will go to college and be a successful man.” Their intermediate school principals joined the high school principals for the first time at this ceremony at the college and pledged to see more of their students have these opportunities and join all efforts available to prepare them for college.

“The Santa Ana Unified School District, after the impact GEAR UP has shown in their early college preparation work at the middle schools, has now instituted a district wide college and career planning curriculum starting in the 6th grade. This recognition of middle school students at this scholarship event is confirmation of our collaborative commitment to early college preparation,” expressed Dr. Tanakeyowma.

~Special thanks to everyone at Santa Ana GEAR UP who made the celebration possible, and thanks to Dr.Tanakeyowma for sharing their success with us for our blog.

What is your GEAR UP program doing to celebrate the Education Trust Award recipients?

Congressman Miller Honors Franklin GEAR UP Students

On June 8, 2010 Franklin Middle School in Vallejo, CA will celebrate their California GEAR UP Education Trust Award recipients with a ceremony for students and families. Across the state of California, GEAR UP schools will be hosting celebrations for their ETA students, however, Franklin has a special surprise for this years honorees. Congressman George Miller has extended his personal appreciation for the hard work of the Education Trust Award students with a personal certificate for each student.

Our kids LOVE being recognized from their congressman… they feel very proud of themselves, as they should. Thank you (California GEAR UP) for giving our 4 students a certificate, I know their parents were extremely proud that we recognized their child’s efforts, I know they are going to be elated that Congressman Miller and his staff has recognized them as well.  Thanks again!!!

-Michael David, Franklin Middle School Principal

We are excited many of our schools are getting noticed by their local representatives for providing outstanding education opportunities for their community. This is just one example of how GEAR UP Leadership teams impact their school and families through the support of CA GEAR UP.