Increase in GEAR UP 2016 Funding Announced


GEAR UP Community, this announcement was recently shared by our Washington DC partners, the National Council For Education and Community Partnerships as it relates to an increase in 2016 GEAR UP funding. Celebrate!


I am exceptionally pleased to share that moments ago, the President signed the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations package. Included in the FY 2016 appropriations is a $21.1 million increase for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative, which will bring overall funding to $322,754,000.As we have been discussing and reporting in the NCCEP Digests since last summer, this has been a hard fought process and we are grateful for the bipartisan leadership in the House, Senate, and the White House for supporting GEAR UP. Given the dramatic impact that your work has on the lives of students, families, and communities, we could not be more thankful that today’s outcome will bring over 38,000 new students into the program.

The $21.1 million increase represents the largest year-over-year increase in GEAR UP funding since 2001, and nearly recovers all of the sequestration-based cuts that the program has suffered since 2011, and leaves us just $458,000 shy of our all-time funding peak. I know many of you are anxious to know what this means for the timing of the next GEAR UP competition. It’s too soon to tell, but we will certainly keep you informed as the Department’s plans come together.

This growth is a testament to your work, impact, and commitment to advocating on behalf of the students we serve. I recognize that we have challenged each and every one of you to play a role in advocating for GEAR UP, so I hope that over the holiday season you will take a moment to reflect on what we have been able to accomplish together. Our shared belief that “together we rise,” has never been truer than today.

Of course, the road ahead will remain challenging. As such, we will continue to expand and refine our focus around our “Excel, Prove, Mobilize” strategies so that we sustain and grow GEAR UP. So while I know you will celebrate along with us, I also hope you will be emboldened to do more. Let us consider this victory an important first step, rather than the finish line.

So on behalf of everyone at NCCEP, thank you for your efforts. We hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Ranjit Sidhu
President & CEO
National Council for Community and Education Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP), All rights reserved.
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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.

Speak Up for GEAR UP: Sign the Petition

Just before leaving for their August recess, members of Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. While the full implications of the Act are not yet clear, one thing is crystal clear: GEAR UP is at risk.

When Congress re-convenes in early September to pick up their budget and appropriations work, they’ll be tasked with cutting billions of dollars from the federal budget. GEAR UP and other college access programs may well be on the chopping block.

Our members of Congress and the Obama administration need to hear from each and every American concerned about college access and committed to efficient, effective, locally-driven, and family-focused programs like GEAR UP. Now is the time to make our voices heard: protect the future by protecting funding for GEAR UP and other college access programs.

Here’s where you come in. I need you to act TODAY.

Please click here to sign the petition asking the President to stand up for college access during the upcoming appropriations battles.

Signing the petition adds your voice to the GEAR UP chorus, and is a first step down the road to protecting this critical program.

Action Alert: Contact Washington Week

Contact the House and Senate Leadership, YOUR Members of Congress and the White House every day through August 2, and demand they protect GEAR UP.

The debt ceiling debate rages on in Washington, DC. Negotiations between the White House and Congress collapsed last week. Now, both the House and Senate leadership are pursuing two separate plans to raise the debt ceiling before August 2, when America’s borrowing authority reaches its legal limit, resulting in default.

As you can see, things are evolving very rapidly as time runs out and only three things are certain:

  1. Both Republicans and Democrats are aware of the need to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default, but there’s no agreement on how to do this;
  2. Both the House and Senate plans include $1.2 trillion in cuts to discretionary spending over the next 10 years (approx. 12 billion a year);
  3. You need to stand up for the principle that low-income people should be protected in whatever deal is cut.

You need to make sure your voice heard every day this week leading up to August 2 and demand that GEAR UP and other college access programs be safeguarded in the deal-making process.

Here’s what you can do now:

  1. Recruit 5 persons to reach out to the House of Representatives, Senate and White House (GEAR UP students, GEAR UP parents, GEAR UP teachers, GEAR UP partners, colleagues, friends and family).
  2. Contact the following offices:
  3. Follow-up with your group, ask them to continue the “chain” by recruiting 5 more people and get the word out!

PLEASE NOTE: Capitol Hill switchboards and websites have been overloaded over the past few days, keep insisting until you get through because GEAR UP must make its stand for college access, NOW!
The Message

“[ELECTED OFFICIAL NAME], the American people need you to protect the programs and services our low-income, minority and disadvantaged students depend on to enroll in and succeed in college. I urge you to defend GEAR UP in the debt-ceiling and deficit-reduction negotiations, because only an educated workforce can help us secure a prosperous economic future for our country.”

Thank you very much for your hard work and your support in responding to this call to action. It is very important that you act NOW for the duration of this process. Not doing so will have dire consequences for GEAR UP, college access and all of education for many years to come!

Action Alert: Call Congress and Save GEAR UP

(Click on call script above to enlarge and download.)

As you know, the environment in Washington is quite heated with the Administration and Congress negotiating how to pare down the federal deficit. A number of rumors are swirling around town and the only thing that is certain is that all non-security programs – including GEAR UP -are at risk of being severely reduced or cut altogether. In the coming days the GEAR UP community is organizing advocacy measures directed at the House of Reps, Senate, and the White House. Here is the schedule:

  • Wednesday, July 13 – U.S. House of Representatives
  • Thursday, July 14 – U.S. Senate
  • Tuesday, July 19 – White House

Here is how:

  1. Search who your legislators are here.
  2. Call your House Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  3. Deliver the message (from script above): “Tell [LEGISLATOR NAME] not to cut GEAR UP in FY 2012!”
  4. Find five other people to do the same!

Here is how to call the White House:

  • Call the White House @ (202) 456-1111 and let President Obama know he “MUST protect TRIO and GEAR UP in the debt ceiling and FY12 negotiations.  There is no college success, without college access.” Also, e-mail (click) the President and repeat your messsage!

    PLEASE NOTE: White House switchboard shuts down @ 5:00 PM (ET) and the lines are often busy. Please call early and insist until you deliver your message!

We know our programs work. We know they make a tremendous difference in the lives of all of the students we touch. Many on Capitol Hill know this as well, but the nature of the current debate is so serious that we cannot sit idly by in hopes of being spared. Now is the time to act!

TRIO and GEAR UP to Shut Down Washington!


Dear TRIO and GEAR UP Colleagues:

As you know, the environment in Washington is quite heated with the Administration and Congress negotiating how to pare down the federal deficit. A number of rumors are swirling around town and the only thing that is certain is that all non-security programs – including TRIO and GEAR UP – are at risk.

We know our programs work. We know they make a tremendous difference in the lives of all of the students we touch. Many on Capitol Hill know this as well, but the nature of the current debate is so serious that we cannot sit idly by in hopes of being spared. Just a few months back, in the 11th hour budget deal negotiated by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), leaders cut TRIO and GEAR UP by 3.1% and 6.3%, respectively. All told, we were forced to absorb a joint loss of $47 million in funding cuts, impacting 650,000 students!

We cannot and will not allow this to happen again. Therefore, we are joining forces to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill and let federal leaders know that they MUST protect TRIO and GEAR UP from further cuts!

We strongly urge you, your co-workers, students, parents, alumni, friends, and neighbors to participate in each of our three call-days.

TRIO and GEAR UP Call-In Days

  • Wednesday, July 13 – U.S. House of Representatives
  • Thursday, July 14 – U.S. Senate
  • Tuesday, July 19 – White House

How to Participate? It’s Easy!

  1. Search who your legislators are here.
  2. Call your House Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  3. Deliver the message: “Tell [LEGISLATOR NAME] not to cut GEAR UP in FY 2012!”
  4. Find five other people to do the same!

(You do the same thing for the Senate on July 14 and for the White House on July 19. Call President Obama at (202) 456-1111.)

In order for this plan to work, we need thousands – literally, thousands – of TRIO and GEAR UP supporters to call the Washington, DC and speak in a unified voice. This is how we’ve won battles in the past and this is how we will win now!

Please do not hesitate to contact the Government Relations Team at COE (202.347.7430) or NCCEP (202.530.1135, ext. 110) for more information about this joint effort!

Education Trust Awards Season is Here

Pictured: Ambassadors Program: The California GEAR UP Educational Trust Award is unique in that it is given during the middle grades, as early motivation for students and their families. This $2,000 award is tangible evidence of our belief that with support and encouragement, college is not only possible, but attainable for all students. The Ambassador program was created so that Trust Award recipients now in college can share their experiences with middle school students, middle school staff, and other organizations.

The California GEAR UP model provides school-based services to ensure that students and their families have multiple college and career choices after high school.  The scholarship component of the program requires the state to establish and maintain a financial assistance program for students to attend institutions of higher education.

Since 1999, 5,065 California GEAR UP students have received Education Trust Awards from the program.  Of that number, 2,016 graduated from high school in 2008 and claimed their awards.  Education Trust Awards provide $2,000 (plus interest) in resources to defray the costs of college attendance.  Award recipients are selected by school personnel at California GEAR UP middle schools.  The awards are available to students within one year of high school graduation and upon college enrollment.

For mor information, including downloadable forms, frequently asked questions, please visit our website.

If you have an Education Trust Award story to share, please email us at:

Gov Shutdown Looms, GEAR UP Funding in Jeopardy

As part of a plan to slash more than $100 billion from the president’s proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2011, House Republicans have passed a bill that would cut funding for the U.S. Department of Education by $4.9 billion, an 8 percent reduction compared to 2010 spending. In an article in Education Week, Joel Packer, former director of educational policy and practice at the National Education Association said the House cuts “absolutely would be the largest cuts ever in history for education programs.”

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said in a statement:

The GOP approach “would knock the legs out from under our nascent economic recovery, kill jobs, and do virtually nothing to address the long-term fiscal crisis facing our country. Try as they might to convince the American people otherwise, it is simply not possible to balance the budget by targeting 15 percent of federal spending—no matter how deep the cuts are.”

The cuts are devastating not only for K-12 education but for college access programs as well. Programs like California GEAR UP that help low-income students would be hit particularly hard by these cuts. Under the House Republicans’ plan, the maximum award per student for Pell Grants—need-based grants to low-income college students that do not have to be repaid—would be reduced from $5,550 to $4,705. Funding for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which provide additional need-based grants for low-income students, would be eliminated entirely. In addition, the federal TRIO programs and GEAR UP, which both help low-income students pursue higher education, would lose $24.9 million and $19.8 million, respectively, compared to 2010 funding levels.

Deep cuts in GEAR UP would likely result in decreasing the number of lower income students who are prepared for university and actually attend college. As one of the most successful and far reaching college access programs, GEAR UP is crucial to schools, communities, and families that rely on these types of programs to make the difference in achieving their college dreams.

“GEAR UP has been shown to be the most successful of any federal program for improving the life chances of students from our poorest households by readying them, even as young teens, for possible success in higher education,” —Congressman Fattah, the father and author of GEAR UP legislation.

If, in fact, the government does shut down, it is vital that you contact your Members of Congress and demand that they pass legislation that funds education and protects GEAR UP. Legislators are hedging their bets that the government shutdown will work to their favor. You must let them know that our students’ futures amount to more than a political bargaining chip and hold them accountable for their responsibility to keep our nation afloat. Contact information for all Members of Congress is available at

Ed Chief Praises California GEAR UP Success at Tincher

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a round table discussion at California GEAR UP distinguished school Tincher Prep yesterday in Long Beach. The purpose of his visit was to learn best practices of the school and to hear how Tincher has been so successful in creating distributed leadership and a school community working for the same goals.

Principal Bill Vogel said it best: “You give teachers choice in their professional development, you let them lead the direction of the school, and you let the school have discretion in how to best serve their students.” The teachers chose to participate in California GEAR UP three years ago.

“We need funds to keep programs and people” he said. “We need programs like GEAR UP, AVID, and funding for those programs.”

The secretary listened intently as administrators and teachers talked about the programs that make Tincher a success. Mr. Vogel and the staff repeated listed California GEAR UP as a key program in their development. The East Long Beach K-8 school, where more than 50 percent of the students are designated as disadvantaged, has been lauded for its gains in test scores and was named a “School to Watch” by the California Middle Grades Alliance in 2009.

Duncan said the Tincher sets an example for other school districts in the country.

“I’ve studied your school district for a long time, and I think you have so much to be proud of,” he told a crowd gathered in the school library. “I don’t say this lightly, but more so than the vast majority of school districts that I visit, this school district has gotten things right for a long time.”

Also in attendance was Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach., who said federal funding should be streamed directly to school districts instead of being “tied up” in Sacramento.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed No Child Left Behind, and the fact that virtually every school in Los Angeles Unified School District will be classified as failing by 2014 if the law is not urgently reformed.

That has led to a narrowed curriculum that focuses intensely on those subjects, sacrificing the well-rounded education that every child needs, he said.

Middle school music teacher Laura Strand said No Child Left Behind should have a greater focus on art, music and sports programs that are in danger of being cut in the budget crisis.

“I see students being pulled out of these programs when they’re finding success and it breaks my heart,” she said.

“No Child Left Behind is fundamentally broken,” Duncan said. “We want to fix it before we go back to school this fall.”

He said Congress needs to rewrite the law to be more “fair, flexible and focused” this year, so it can be implemented for the next academic calendar.

Tincher Prep has been a California GEAR UP school since the fall of 2008 and is part of a cohort of schools receiving professional development services with the goal of creating a college-going culture throughout the school community. Tincher recently received the California GEAR UP Leadership Team of the Year award at our Southern California Community conference, and as the Secretary of Education has pointed out, continues to be a model school.

To learn more about how Tincher has become a leader in the GEAR UP community, please visit our website and check us out on Twitter and the other articles on our blog.