Eastern’s GEAR UP team attends 2018 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity-Building Workshop


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 13, 2018) – Las Vegas was the site of the 2018 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. Eileen Bland, Director of GEAR UP, TRIO Talent Search and The College Access Challenge Grant Division at the US Department of Education brought greetings.

Linda Cliatt–Wayman, principal, educator, speaker and author delivered the morning keynote. Her leadership as a high school principal in North Philadelphia has been featured by TED, ABC World News Tonight, and Nightline. Cliatt–Wayman grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia, where she experienced firsthand the injustice perpetrated against poor students in their education. She has dedicated her career and her life to ending that injustice and helping students succeed in school and beyond.

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 Leveraging Change Management Tools for GEAR UP Program Planning; Building Schools that Work for All Students; Naming, Claiming, and Aiming our Talents; Breaking Barriers to Successful Family Engagement; Redefining Readiness; and Transferable Models of Instruction. Afternoon sessions included Completing the GEAR UP Annual & Final Performance Reports; Quad Squad 101: Managing Your NCCEP Digital Workspace; Preparing New GEAR UP Leaders for Success: Part 1: Compliance & Administration; Creating a Culture of Makers: Incorporating Hands–On, Low–Cost STEM Activities in GEAR UP; Pick a Problem: Changing the Paradigm of Student Guidance through Problem–Solving; Making Good College Tours Great: Strategies to Take Your Tours to the Next Level; Breaking Through with Disengaged Students; Reaching Higher: Effectively Utilizing the (Free) Tools & Resources from Better Make Room; and The Road Into, Through, and Beyond Summer Melt. Team members also participated in GEAR UP Affinity Group discussions.

Greg Simon, President, Biden Cancer Institute, provided the keynote on the second day. Simon previously served as the executive director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, a position created by President Barack Obama for which he was chosen by Vice President Joe Biden in March 2016.

Team members attended various PROVE workshops including Improving Your Team’s Use of Data, Evidence, and Action Planning; Predictors & Indicators of College Readiness: Understanding the Research to Improve Programming; Deconstructing Data for Optimal Programming; Mapping an Analytic Framework to Advance Evaluation; and Family Engagement Grounded in Data, Research, and Evaluation. Afternoon workshops included Documenting the Match & Cost–Share Requirements; Peer–to–Peer Roundtable: Completing the APR; Preparing New GEAR UP Leaders for Success, Pt 2: Foundational Issues in GEAR UP Implementation; Putting the CAREER in College and Career Readiness; Pulling Back the Curtain: Five Actionable Insights to Enhance Your Student Programs; Harmony Out of Chaos: Effectively Managing Your Goals, Portfolio, and Team; and A Completely Modern Approach to Evidence–Based Mentoring.

Eastern’s GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan co–presented two workshops, Preparing New GEAR UP Leaders for Success: Part I: Compliance & Administration and Documenting the Match & Cost–Share Requirements with the US Department of Education.

The final day of the conference began with the Drum Café West Cost presenting a unique, literally hands–on approach to team–building, learning, and motivation that draws parallels between making music together and collaborating in an organization, community or “tribe” to achieve a unified goal.

The Eastern team also attended MOBILIZE workshops including Delivering Effective Presentations; Securing Buy–In Through Effective Advocacy; Culturally–Responsive Communications in Family Engagement; Crafting a Communications Plan; Culture, Identity, and Experience: Building an Effective GEAR UP Brand; and Igniting Imagination: Harness Story, Play, and Design to Create Transformative Learning Experiences.

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, Brianna Brassfield, Natalie Kennedy, Denise Lovell, Tara Martin, Rachael Ranallo, and Shawna Smith; GEAR UP Professional Development Coordinator John Spiegel; GEAR UP Data Entry Clerk Tonya White; GEAR UP Assistant Project Director Dara Self; 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 final year of implementation. Eastern currently serves over 2,300 students in 27 partner schools in six counties. In 2017, Eastern received a seven–year, $17 million GEAR UP grant and is currently serving over 3,000 students in 30 partner schools in nine counties. The grants are running simultaneously.

Members of Eastern’s delegation to the 2018 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity–Building Conference were: (front row) Helen Scott, Brianna Brassfield, Linda Morgan, Rachael Ranallo, (back row) LaDonna Baldwin, Dara Self, Natalie Kennedy, Tonya White, Tara Martin, Denise Lovell, Shawna Smith, John Spiegel and LaDonna Howell.

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