San Antonio was the site of the 2019 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop. Eastern’s GEAR UP delegation joined over 1,300 GEAR UP professionals from across the nation at the workshop designed to help new and experienced GEAR UP professionals effectively meet their project goals and objectives through professional development and strategic planning activities. The workshop is coordinated by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and is planned in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education.
The Workshop built on the key strategies organized thematically around professional learning in the key areas of: Excel—ensuring a mindset of continual improvement and equipping GEAR UP professionals with the skills necessary to consistently improve their programs. Prove—ensuring that GEAR UP programs and staff have the appropriate infrastructure and capability to make informed decisions based on reliable data and, ultimately, to be able to demonstrate impact; Mobilize—ensuring that our work locally and nationally finds a collective voice to secure the long–term sustainability and growth of GEAR UP and to continually recruit more individuals and partners to the movement.
The opening session was called to order by Ranjit Sidhu, NCCEP President and CEO. Eduardo Briceño, co-founder & CEO of Mindset Works provided the keynote. Mindset Works is the leading provider of growth mindset advisory and training services and program.
Attendees from across the nation met to hone their grant implementation practices. In addition to the numerous workshops, opportunities were available for networking with colleagues.
Team members attended various EXCEL workshops including Parents That Show Up Have Students That Go Up: Best Practices for Effective Parent Engagement; Building & Sustaining Community through Personal Narratives; GEAR UP in the First Year of Postsecondary Education; Pairing Rigor and Engagement for Meaningful Learning; GEAR UP as a Tool for Equity Warriors; and Nurturing a College–Going Culture that Ignites Engagement, Involvement, and Buy–In. Team members also participated in GEAR UP Affinity Group discussions.
John Friedman, Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Brown University, provided the keynote on the second day. Additionally, Friedman is a founding co-director of Opportunity Insights, a research and policy center dedicated to developing scalable policy solutions that empower families throughout the United Sates to rise out of poverty and achieve better life outcomes.
Team members attended various PROVE workshops including GEAR UP Data and Evaluation: A Foundation; How to Effectively Share Data with Schools: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Data Inquiry, and Effective Teaming; School-Based Data: How to Tie Program Services to Outcomes; Early Warning Program Supports for College Readiness; and Storytelling through Data: Engaging Stakeholders and Improving Data Literacy.
Eastern’s GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan co–presented two workshops, Preparing New GEAR UP Leaders for Success, Part 1: Compliance and Administration and Preparing New GEAR UP Leaders for Success, Part 2: Foundational Issues in GEAR UP Implementation.
The final day of the conference featured Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Architecture, and African and African American at Harvard.
The Eastern team also attended MOBILIZE workshops including Culture, Identity, and Experience: Building an Effective GEAR UP Brand; Cut the Jargon: Clear Strategies for Clear Communication; No More Secrets: Getting the Right GEAR UP Message Out; Securing Buy-In through Effective Advocacy; and Igniting Imagination: Harnessing Story, Play and Design to Create Transformative Learning.
Additional workshops included Leveraging Social Media Tactics and Data to Market Your GEAR UP Program; Integrating Social Emotional Learning; The Heart of the Activity; Using Qualitative Data to Add Richness in Evaluations; Roundtable for GEAR UP Match; The Ins and Outs of Federal GEAR UP Reporting Lessons and Tips; Roundtable on GEAR UP College Visits: Exploring Practices; Digging Deep into What Really Works (and What Doesn’t) with Mentoring; Implement Social and Emotional Learning Now; and Building College and Career Readiness.
Area superintendents Randy Hughes (McAlester) and Bruce Gillham (Shady Point) attended the District Leadership Institute (DLI), an innovative program for the GEAR UP community that seeks to maximize the talent and leadership skills of district leaders serving GEAR UP students.
Representing Eastern GEAR UP were McAlester Superintendent Randy Hughes; Shady Point Superintendent Bruce Gillham; GEAR UP Project Office Manager Helen Scott; GEAR UP Education Coordinators Brianna Brassfield, Leslie Hemphill, Bethany Hicks; Denise Lovell, Tara Martin, and Rachael Ranallo; GEAR UP Data Entry Clerk Whitney Forwoodson; GEAR UP Administrative Assistant Jessica Dye; GEAR UP Web/Computer Tech Specialist Doug Hensley; GEAR UP Professional Development Coordinator John Spiegel; GEAR UP Assistant Project Director Dara Self; and GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan.
In 2017, Eastern received a seven–year, $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and is in its second year of implementation. Eastern currently serves over 3,000 students in 39 partner schools in nine counties.