Eastern’s GEAR UP team attends 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity–Building Workshop


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 13, 2017) – New York City was the site of the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity Building Workshop. Eastern’s GEAR UP delegation joined over 1,400 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 that were launched at the recent GEAR UP Annual Conference in San Francisco and 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. Eileen Bland, Director of GEAR UP, TRIO Talent Search and The College Access Challenge Grant Division at the US Department of Education brought greetings.

Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, retired vice president of the Fund for the City of New York, delivered the morning keynote.

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 “Focusing on Implementation Through the ‘Delivery’ Methodology;” “Continuous Improvement in Education Using the School Success Model;” “Cultivating a College–Going Culture; Cultural Competence: What It Is and Why It’s Important;” and “Creating Transferable and On–Going Learning.” Skill–Building Workshops included “Completing the GEAR UP Annual & Final Performance Reports;” “GEAR UP 101: The Basics of Program Management;” “The GEAR UP 7th GEAR;” “Developing Growth Mindset for Families;” “Using FAFSA Completion Data for Better Outcomes;” and “Evaluation in Your Next GEAR UP Application.” Team members also participated in GEAR UP Affinity Group discussions.

Brandon H. Busteed, Executive Director, Education & Workforce Development, Gallup, provided the keynote on the second day. Team members attended various PROVE workshops including “Developing a GEAR UP Data and Evaluation Infrastructure;” “Usable Data: The Importance of Consistency, Fidelity, and Denominators;” “Data–Driven Improvement in Schools and Programs;” “The Four Keys of College & Career Readiness—Applying Research to Action; Data for a Movement: Visualizing and Communicating Data for Impact;” and “Data–Driven Counseling: A Practitioner’s Blueprint for GEAR UP.”

Skill–building workshops included “Tools and Resources for Managing Your GEAR UP Grant;” “Driving Change with Social and Emotional Learning;” “Preparing for the New APR;” “Igniting Student Inquiry Through Project–Based Learning;” “After the FAFSA: SAR Review, Follow–Up and Verification;” “Sitting on the Other Side: Understanding College Application Essays;” “Preventing Summer Melt: Removing Barriers and Building Bridges;” and “GEAR UP Scholarships Forum.”

Eastern’s GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan co–presented two workshops, “GEAR UP 101: The Basics of Program Management” and “Tools and Resources for Managing Your GEAR UP Grant.”

Kavitha Cardoza, an award–winning correspondent at Education Week, reporting on education issues from pre–K through higher education for PBS NewsHour and edweek.org was keynote on the final day.

The Eastern team also attended MOBILIZE workshops including “Securing Buy–In Through Effective Advocacy;” “Delivering Effective Presentations;” “Culturally–Responsive Communications in GEAR UP;” and “Overcoming Barriers in Family Engagement.”

Representing Eastern GEAR UP were Eastern Vice President for Business Affairs LaDonna Howell; GEAR UP Project Office Manager Helen Scott; GEAR UP Education Coordinators LaDonna Baldwin, Natalie Kennedy, Tina McMurtrey, Dara Self, Shawna Smith and Tara Stevens; GEAR UP Professional Development Coordinator John Spiegel; and GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan.

In 2011, Eastern received a seven–year, $12.6 million federal GEAR UP grant and is in its sixth year of implementation. Eastern currently serves over 2,300 students in 27 partner schools in six counties.

Members of Eastern’s delegation to the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity–Building Conference include: Front Row: Education Coordinator Natalie Kennedy, Project Office Manager Helen Scott, Project Director Linda Morgan, Education Coordinator Tina McMurtrey and Education Coordinator Shawna Smith. Back Row: Professional Development Coordinator John Spiegel, Eastern Vice President for Business Affairs LaDonna Howell, Education Coordinator Dara Self, Education Coordinator Tara Stevens and Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin.

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