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Winter 2017 Newsletter

» News
» Regional Highlights
» Resources


GUV Partners with Student Success Agency

Student Success Agency LogoStudent Success Agency (SSA) describes itself as being “an agent in your pocket.” This is because SSA offers near-peer electronic mentoring, or e-mentoring, for students via text, email, and phone call – all of which can be done from the cell phone in students’ pockets.  Because mentoring is a required service for GEAR UP programs, and because face-to-faceSSA Kickoff 2017 mentoring can be difficult to coordinate, GEAR UP Virginia (GUV) met with SSA to explore opportunities to partner. SSA implemented their e-mentoring program with GUV during the spring of 2017 at Washington and Lee High School in Westmoreland County.  After seeing the success of Washington & Lee’s partnership with SSA, 11 more GUV high schools signed their students up for SSA.  From September 11 – 22nd, during National GEAR UP Week no less, SSA’s co-founder EJ Carrion came to Virginia on a state-wide tour to launch the program and enroll GEAR UP students. So far, 297 GEAR UP students have had 56,571 interactions with SSA’s near-peer mentors, on topics ranging from football to college majors to dreams and aspirations.  SSA looks to provide college mentoring “anywhere, anytime.”  Because of their innovative approach to mentoring, SSA was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine for their 2018 ‘30 under 30’ Award. (See the article here.) We look forward to seeing GUV students’ self-perception, motivation, and college-going expectations increase through their e-mentoring experience!


GEAR UP Virginia took The Virginia College Access Network (VCAN) Conference by storm! This year the VCAN conference was the opportunity for 220 college access professionals from K-12, Colleges and Universities, and other agencies to come together  to work on their joint mission to “enhance access to post-secondary education for residents of Virginia.”

Over 60 GUV participants from across the state attended the conference. GUV schools were treated to their own game night before the conference by Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) where they previewed the highly informative and entertaining personal finances game, The Fab Life. Laughs and sighs were heard throughout the room as each participant tried to budget their fictional monthly salary, and at the end of the night each school won their own game to share with their students. 

The rest of the 3 days passed in an informative blur of presentations and networking. GUV participants not only attended presentations on a variety of college access topics, but were also presenters themselves.  Dr. Caron Blizzard and Allen Washington from Newport News shared the success of their video mentoring program, where high school and middle school students communicate through video. Gail Barker of Suffolk Public Schools also presented on" Restorative Justice in Education," while Jackie Elliott of Sussex Central Public Schools was on the closing session panel. Reshaud Rich, the Southeastern Regional Manager, delivered a presentation titled “Morality v. Constitutionality,” where he “challenged participants’ understanding of freedom of speech and other legal protections within the realm of academia.”

As one participant stated, “This was my first time attending the conference...I thought it was great.” For pictures and more information on this year’s conference please visit their website. Don't miss out on the latest best practices and save the date for next year’s conference on December 5-7, 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Data Bits

Great job to all the GEAR UP Virginia schools!  GEAR UP Virginia Infographic for 2018All these services are bringing us one step closer to our 2018 objectives! 

Click on the infographic to the right to get more details on our main services. Remember school programming should include services/activities that strive to increase the number of students:

  • Promoted to the next grade on time (Objective 1.4)
  • Taking AP or Dual Enrollment classes (Objective 1.5)
  • Preparing for and taking the ACT / SAT (Objective 2.5)
  • With parents engaging in college prep activities (Objective 3.2)
  • Who have visited one or more Virginia public colleges (Objective 3.4)


Western Region

Randolph-Henry High School StudentsGUV's Randolph-Henry High School Students participated in an overnight college Vvsit at the end of September.  Students toured Virginia Tech on Friday and Radford University on Saturday.  Friday evening, students were able to participate in Late Night activities on Radford’s campus.  Early college exposure has been so great for our students as they are being consistently reminded of the need to be academically strong and focused during high school so that they can benefit from a great post secondary education.  


Washington and Lee Students

A group of GEAR UP Washington & Lee High School students and parents attended NASA Langley’s Centennial Open House on October 21, 2017.  The students toured the crash landing practice field and the computer control center for the space lab. They also toured by bus the massive complex.  Another journey is planned in the future to go and visit more of the site.


Woodside High SchoolGEAR UP Newport News celebrated National GEAR UP Week during September 18-22.  The Gear UP Program Coordinators handed out the student schedules, and  Newport News also welcomed a new District Coordinator (Virgie Beck) for the six partner schools.  Woodside High students posed with their signed banner and check, while Warwick High reminded students that “there’s no elevator to college.”  Woodside High GEAR UP also had to the oppertunity to share their college pennants to the rest of the group.


Time sensitive information about Professional Development, Grants, Scholarships, Opportunities for Students, and Resources available in this section.


ENGAGE VA: Youth Engagement Seminar & Showcase
GEAR UP VA is proud to partner with CoolSpeak to present the ENGAGE VA Conference, a training and teacher professional development seminar that will focus on student engagement best practices and researched techniques, at George Mason University on June 20-21, 2018. Register now

Fun Fact - CoolSpeak presented at 18 out of 24 GUV schools during their Cool Tour in 2017!


MOVE at VIrginia State University
Dates: July 15-17, 2018
Empowering African American Males with Disabilities to Overcome Barriers, Become Self-Determined, and to Graduate High School College & Career Ready. Each July, the Virginia Department of Education welcomes African- American males with disabilities and their families from across the Commonwealth to participate in a three-day summit. 

Hispanic College Institute at Virginia Tech
Dates: June 28- July 1, 2018
The Hispanic College Institute provides clear and practical college application and financial aid information and offers students the opportunity to engage with successful Hispanic leaders and role models who will inform them about career and educational opportunities.

Summer Humanities Institute at Christopher Newport University
Dates: June 17-28, 2018
The Summer Humanities Institute will foster critical-thinking and writing skills that will be valuable long after the program ends. Students will have a unique opportunity to get feedback from college professors before taking AP, IB or dual enrollment courses, and earn three college credits toward graduation from CNU or transferable to other institutions. Admission officers will be available to interview interested students – a crucial step in the college admissions process. Deadline for Application: March 15, 2018.


How to Prepare for College When You Have a Disability:If you have a disability, planning to attend college might seem like a nightmare — but in reality, with a bit of preparation, you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s important to know your rights as a disabled student and know what you have to do to get ready for the next stage in your life.

Still paying off your student loans?: Good news is on the horizon for school counselors and college admission professionals: Public service employees are eligible to have their debt wiped off the books starting this year under a new federal loan forgiveness program.Applicants are urged to start the process now by filing paperworkwith the federal government, according to a post on Homeroom, the Department of Education’s official blog.

Career With Code Magazine: Check out the inspiring @CareersWithCode magazine! You can read it free online & watch videos those featured in the magazine.Perfect for middle school - college, students & educators alike!  

Financial Aid 101 Learning Course Now AvailableNational Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) first e-learning course, a set of online training modules that will enable members to learn anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace,is now available. Financial Aid 101 offers a comprehensive review of financial aid procedures and guidelines to professionals advising students about paying for college. The course is for entry-level professionals in the counseling and admission fields. Continuing education credits are available for public school counselors who complete the 2.5-hour course. The cost is $100 for NACAC members and $125 for nonmembers.

Federal Student Aid Webinar: Counselor Title IV Funding,  March 13, 2018, 1:00–2:00 p.m.

SAT Testing Dates: May 5, 2018 (Registration Deadline: April 6, 2018), June 2, 2018 (Registration Deadline: May 3, 2018)

ACT Testing Dates: April 14, 2018 (Registration Deadline: March 9, 2018), June 9, 2018 (Registration Deadline: May 4, 2018)


Digital Wish Lesson Plan Grants: Have an innovative technology-based lesson plan you want to share? Submit your lesson plans to Digital Wish for a chance at receiving one of 50+ classroom technology grants. All of your uploaded lesson plans can then be shared with colleagues and educators across the country. Up to 50 technology grants will be available in the U.S.Deadline: Rolling: 15th of every month

Toshiba 6-12 EdTech Grant: Do you have a plan to make science and math learning for engaging for students? Toshiba America Foundation provides grants to educators to support tech-enhanced STEM learning for students. Grants enable educators to roll out match and science project-based learning, and can be used to purchase supplies and materials. Grants requests of less than $5,000 are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year; grants proposals for more than $5,000 are due November 1.

DiscoverE Collaboration Grants OverviewDiscoverE Collaboration Grants provide funding to support programs that engage youth in the engineering community with hands-on learning. Eligible programs will be led by a group of at least three partnering organizations. See a list of the past winning projects online. Five $1000 grants are available.Deadline: Ongoing

Field Trip Grants from the Civil War Trust: The Civil War Trust's field trip grants allow K-12 educators to take students on learning trips at natural historic sites. In particular, The Trust provides grants to help educators plan field trips to Civil War, War of 1812, and Revolutionary War battlefields, as well as related historic sites. Grants are available up to $1,500. Deadline: Rolling

Classroom Grant: Available to all full-time educators who have not received a scholarship or grant from Association of American Educators Foundation in the past two years. Classroom grants can be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline. Deadline: March 01, 2018 

 Home Depot Foundation Grants:This grant is for IRS-registered 501c designated organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community. Grants are given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services to support the renovation, refurbishment, retrofitting, accessibility modifications, and/or weatherization of existing homes, centers, schools and other similar facilities. Award Max: $5,000.00. Deadline: Rolling

IGT After School Advantage Grants:The After School Advantage (ASA) Program is our signature education program and flagship community involvement initiative.Its goal is to address the needs of underprivileged/at-risk children ages five to 18 with a meaningful, yet fun, learning experience during the critical after-school hours in a safe environment. It does this by providing qualifying non-profit community agencies and public schools with digital learning centers. Each digital learning center is unique in its design and specific to an organization’s custom needs. Deadline: Rolling


Scholarship Poetry Contest: Live Poets Society of New Jersey is sponsoring a $500 scholarship open to all U.S. high school students. Applicant must submit an original poem with 20 lines or less. Deadline: March 31, 2018

Writer’s Square Essay Contest: Hakka Foundation is sponsoring a contest for up to $1,000 that is open to students in 1st grade through college. Applicant must submit an essay on the theme of “Character.” Deadline: March 31, 2018

E-waste Scholarship: Digital Responsibility is sponsoring a $1,000 scholarship open to high school students and current or entering college or graduate students at any level. Applicant must answer in 140-characters or less “the most important reason to care about e-waste is…” Deadline: April 30, 2018

Granville P. Meade Scholarship: The Granville P. Meade Scholarship provides financial assistance to students who have achieved academically, but who are financially unable to attend college. The Granville P. Meade fund provides scholarship awards to worthy and financially disadvantaged Virginia high school seniors to attend one of Virginia's public or private colleges or universities. Deadline: March 6, 2018

Madison Small ScholarshipThe Ashburn Girls Softball League student athlete $500 scholarship program provides partial college scholarships to deserving young women that have demonstrated sportsmanship, citizenship and commitment to the game of softball that resulted in a positive impact on their own development and AGSL as a whole. Up to three partial scholarships will be awarded each year to be used at an accredited college, university or vocational institution toward direct costs (tuition, books, room & board). Deadline: April 15, 2018

Elie Wiesel Visual Arts Competition: The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is sponsoring a Visual Art Competition for a variety of financial prizes. Competitions are open to middle and high school students. Entries accepted from Feb 19 to March 2, 2018.

Important Dates

March 1:
3rd Reimbursement and Match Due for Western Region

March 15: 
3rd Reimbursement and Match Due for North Central and Southeast Region

March 30: GUV Student and Parent Surveys Completed

May 2:
4th Reimbursement and Match due for Western Region

May 16:
4th Reimbursement and Match due for North Central and Southeast Region

June 1:
Final Budget Modification Due for 2017-2018

June 20-21:
CoolSpeak Engage VA Conference

June 22:
GUV State  Partnership Meeting

July 13:
5th Reimbursement and Match Due for all Regions

July 15-18:
NCCEP Annual GEAR UP Conference in Washington DC

Staff Contact

Erin McGrath
GUV Senior Coordinator

Tierney Jackson
GUV Scholarship Administrator

Stacey Garnett
GUV Fiscal and Administrative Specialist

Amy Wiggington
GUV Data Specialist

Linda Staylor
Regional Manager- West

Melissa Benavidez
Regional Manager- North Central

Reshaud Rich
Regional Manager- Southeast

Paula Robinson
Assistant Director, College Access and PK-12 Outreach

SCHEV values honesty, quality, diversity, inclusion, growth-orientation, personal well-being, equity, transparency and accountability.
Through these values, we create a welcoming work environment that represents the best of who we are as an agency and as individuals.

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