Eastern Delegation Attends 2016 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference in Washington D.C.


WILBURTON, OK (Aug. 8, 2016) – Thirty–one students, chaperones, Eastern staff and GEAR UP team members recently attended the 2016 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference. The excitement began as YLS students, chaperones and GEAR UP team members toured Washington, DC. The walking & driving tour of DC included Arlington Cemetery; Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Kennedy Grave site; Iwo Jima and Air Force Memorials; Pentagon 9–11 Memorial; US Capitol; Supreme Court; Library of Congress; Embassy Row; Jefferson, Lincoln, MLK, and Washington monuments; WWII Memorial; FDR Memorial; Vietnam Memorial; Korean Memorial; and the White House. The students reported to the Youth Leadership Summit early that evening.

Members of the GEAR UP team attended “Connecting to the Big Picture: An Orientation to GEAR UP” presented by National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) Vice President for Government Relations Alex Cough.

The opening session of the conference began with Kentucky State University Interim President and Chair of the NCCEP Board Aaron Thompson bringing opening remarks. The Roll Call of States provided excitement as over 1,800 attendees enthusiastically represented their states by tossing memorabilia to participants. Plenary speaker Ranjit Sidhu, President and CEO of NCCEP, presented the conference theme and challenge “The March to a Million.” This year’s theme is an expression of our destination as a movement of educators, leaders, and change agents dedicated to expanding college and career opportunities for greater numbers of students nationwide. While we serve approximately 570,000 students, as a collective voice, we have set our sights on even greater social impact and a greater role in the future of education reform. Together, we are on The March to a Million!

Following the opening session, the ten student members of returned to the YLS, a program provided a high–quality, national–level interactive training experience and peer–to–peer learning opportunity for 9th–12th grade high school students who are currently participating in GEAR UP programs.

Chaperones for the YLS students attended the Parent Leadership Institute (PLI). The PLI was designed to cultivate a group of parents and family leaders with a greater capacity to promote positive change in their children, school and community, and to move forward an agenda that centers on making college possible for all students.

Over the next three days, members of the GEAR UP team chose from 117 workshop sessions designed to help practitioners to excel, prove, and mobilize. Plenary session speakers included Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO, Lumina Foundation, “America Needs Talent and Postsecondary Success Is the Way to Deliver It”; Comedian, TV executive producer and host, actor, writer, director, DJ, entrepreneur, philanthropist and children’s book author, “The Power of Storytelling”; and Plenary Speaker: Reverend Jeffrey Brown, Baptist Minister and President of Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace, “Community Building through Collaborative Leadership.”

Eastern’s GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan presented a workshop, “Don’t Recreate the Wheel—Beg, Borrow, and Steal” The workshop provided resources for tracking student services, documenting and tracking in-kind matches from all sources, and evaluating grant progress towards goals.

GEAR UP Education Coordinators Rachel Ranallo, Lori Douglas and Natalie Kennedy presented “Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement.” Educators learned different techniques and activities to engage students during monthly meetings. Participants left with tools for helping students achieve comprehension with various learning styles.

Morgan joined James Davis, Director of GEAR UP, TRIO Talent Search, and College Access Challenge Grants Division at the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education and St. John’s University GEAR UP and NYGEAR UP Programs Director Yvette Morgan to present “Documenting the Match.” The session, designed for GEAR UP project directors and budget representatives who want to learn about the rules and regulations associated with matching GEAR UP funds, explored allowable, allocable, and reasonable matching purchases as well as unallowable costs that grantees should avoid. Yvette presented tips for urban grantees while Linda provided tips for rural grantees.

The highlight of the conference was the presentation by the NCCEP Youth Leadership Congress participants. Tears and laughter filled the room as students performed skits and talked about how GEAR UP has affected their lives.

Following the conference, members of Eastern’s delegation toured Georgetown University, the spent time at the Smithsonian and ended with dinner at Union Station.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low–income students who enter and successfully transition into postsecondary education. Eastern will receive $12,625,000 over seven years to serve current tenth and eleventh grade students throughout high school graduation and college admission.

Front Row: Rylee Dunlap, Allison Ballard, Lily Romero, Scotlin Rizor, Alison Corcoran and Shakota Yeary. Row 2: Rachael Ranallo, Trish Dunlap, Natalie Kennedy, Bobbie Gilreath, Tonya White, Lori Douglas, Mason Angst and Will Copeland. Row 3: Linda Morgan, Jayden Freeman, Josh Cole, Jonathan Freeman, Michelle Cole, Cherish Rizor, LaDonna Baldwin, Jessica Dye and Veronica Lovell. Back Row: Trish McBeath, Dara Self, Ron Sullivan, Brad Corcoran, Emma Romero, John Spiegel, Helen Scott and Edie Angst.

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