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Fall 2018 Newsletter

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» Regional Highlights
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GEAR UP Virginia Celebrates Video PSA winners

2018 PSA winners Markis Dort and Hannah Baird

GEAR UP Virginia, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia 529, recognized Markis Dort, a GEAR UP rising 11th grade student from Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, and Hannah Baird, a non-GEAR UP rising 12th grader from Woodside High School in Newport News, on June 28th at the Virginia Board of Education meeting. Markis and Hannah created Public Service Announcements emphasizing this year's GEAR UP contest theme, "There is more than one way to pay for college." Students competed by submitting 30 second videos. We are proud of all the talent and creativity displayed in these entries. View the winning PSAs, along with two PSAs from runners up.

This fall GEAR UP Virginia will be launching the Second Annual Video Public Service! Winners will once again receive public recognition from Virginia Board of Education and a Virginia 529 scholarship. Students should start getting their cameras ready to create new videos with this year's theme: "A Higher Degree that Works for Me!"


Ne'kya Day and Shane McNeil at the Youth Leadership Summit This summer GEAR UP students participated in 8 college camps throughout Virginia. GEAR UP partnered with pre-existing college camps to make sure that GUV students had access to diverse college camp opportunities that were of their own interest. Three students attended the Washington Journalism MediaConference at George Mason University, while two others from Sussex attended the Summer Humanities Institute which focused on classical literature at Christopher Newport University. Students also attended the MOVE Camp at Virginia State University, a JROTC/STEM CAMP and the Hispanic College Institute (HCI) at Virginia Tech, as well as a Health Career Camp at John Tyler Community College. GUV students with cybersecurity presentation Fredericksburg High School also partnered with University of Mary Washington to hold a camp for their high school students. Finally, GEAR UP Virginia was well represented at the National Council for Community and Education Partnership’s Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) with six student leaders in attendance. Alejandro Arnez and GUV student Guillermo Velasquez at camp Beyond these camps, GUV partnered with Norfolk State University to offer a Cybersecurity Camp specifically for GEAR UP students. Fifty-eight students from across the state participated in a 6 day overnight camp. Students worked in groups on hands-on computer decoding methods while also learning about different careers in cybersecurity fields. With this wide range of camps, students were able to attend a summer experience that was beneficial to their own personal college and career goals. As Guillermo Velasquez shared with his GEAR UP coordinator about his summer camp experience, "I honestly had the best of the best days of my life."


This year, GEAR UP Virginia is excited to partner with the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges (VFIC) and the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) to provide GUV Latinx students with college visits to private universities in Virginia. In-state Latinx students make up only about 2.5% of the total population in private universities in Virginia. VFIC has received a grant to invite Latinx high school students to the private universities in their network and is working with GEAR UP Virginia to reach students throughout the state. Through this partnership, five schools divisions who have high Latinx student populations (Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Danville, Lynchburg, and Newport News) were chosen to visit nearby private university campuses. Fall is always a busy time of year for all our schools, but this October and November six charter buses filled with excited students will be traveling to visit the college campuses of Shenandoah University, Roanoke College, Bridgewater College, Virginia Wesleyan University, University of Lynchburg, and Washington and Lee University. Students will tour the campuses, talk to students, and attend financial presentations. Members of VALHEN are also using their professional networks to reach out to Latinx students, staff members and professors to have lunch with the students. For many GUV schools, this will be their first visit to a private university and a great new opportunity for all.


Western Region

Randolph-Henry GEAR UP Students at the Truth Empowerment SummitRandolph-Henry GEAR UP Students participated in the first ever Truth Empowerment Summit in July.  Joined by middle and high school student leaders from five school divisions, our students gained vital skills to become empowered individuals and make a difference in their schools. Students were grouped up with college student mentors from Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University throughout the three-day event.  Students created an Action Plan outlining proposed activities to incorporate into their school to shift the culture and create positivity and a healthy learning environment for all.   


GEAR UP/ University of Mary Washington Camp This summer, Fredericksburg High School partnered with the University of Mary Washington to host an overnight summer camp for their students.  It was three days of fun and learning as the students learned more about what it takes to be a successful college student.A career meet and greet was a highlight as professionals from throughout Fredericksburg came to share their professional journey.


Students at the end of the year program at Dinwiddie High School

On June 7, Dinwiddie High showcased student talents, and abilities at their family night.  The annual event began with students teams working to solve the "Spy School Break Out Box", followed by "What's my plan for next year and beyond?"  When parents arrived, they competed against students in "Are you Smarter than your STEM kid?" hosted by the GUV STEM club with food prepared by the GUV Culinary Club.


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



The Virginia School Counselor Association Conference will be from October 17–19 at the Embassy Suites and Hampton Road Convention Center . Registration is now open!


The Virginia College Access Network's (VCAN) Conference is being held this year on December 5-7 in Norfolk, VA.  The VCAN Conference is designed to bring together and strengthen the many college-access organizations that serve the residents of Virginia. Registration is now open. See the VCAN page.


ACT Test and Registration Dates October 27 (Registration: September 28); December 8 (Registration: November 2)

Budgeting on a dime In this webinar, we’ll look at tactics for understanding money behavior patterns in order to gain a better awareness of financial decision making and tools to build a workable budget.

Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs The Pell Institute released a compilation of essays from researcher and practitioner perspectives about how the two groups can work together to inform each other and promote better outcomes for students.

SAT Test and Registration Dates November 3 (Registration October 5); December  1 (Registration November 2 ) 

Student Homelessness & Basic Needs Insecurity Insufficient food and a lack of stable housing are major issues for many college students in the U.S. According to the Still Hungry and Homeless in College study  published by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 36% of respondents considered themselves “food insecure” in the 30 days prior to taking the survey.  Read the full article in the link above.The College Funding Coach The College Funding Coach is a site to find information on funding college and understanding resources available. There are a variety of e-books available including “10 College Funding Strategies.”

Webinar on Supporting Undocumented Students The Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, TheDream.US, and the UnDocuScholars Project at UCLA are co-sponsoring a webinar titled "Supporting Undocumented Students via Resource Centers: What Institutions can Learn from New Research and Best Practices" on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, from 2 to 3:30 pm EST. 


Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants State Farm strives to build safer, stronger, and better-educated communities across the United States. Grants focus on three areas: safety, education, and community development. Education grants support initiatives that more directly support under-served individuals and prepare them for success through college and in the workforce. Three types of grants are awarded to kindergarten through grade 12 public schools: teacher development, service-learning, and education reform and systemic improvement. Deadline: October 31, Amount: $5,000 or more.

Future Leader Initial NCTM Annual Meeting Attendance Award The Future Leader National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting Attendance Award provides financial assistance to classroom teachers who have not previously attended an NCTM annual meeting and exposition, with special consideration given to teachers of under-served and rural students. Deadline: November 1, Amount: Meeting registration and grants up to $1,500 are awarded.

Toshiba Educational Grants for Grades 6-12 For teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Deadline: November 1, Amount: $5,000

DTE Energy Foundation  The DTE Energy Foundation offers support for arts and culture, community transformation, economic progress, education and employment, environment, and human needs. Within education and employment, the foundation focuses on developing programs for at-risk, disadvantaged youth and transitioning adults to generate opportunities for obtaining sustainable skills-based jobs, while maintaining the support of key science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Deadline: November 16, Amount: Varies

Computers for Learning To ensure that modern computer technology is present in every classroom throughout the country so that all children have the opportunity to reach their educational potential. Deadline: December 31, Amount: Unspecified


National Young Arts Foundation  Open to students ages 15-18 who excel in cinematic arts, dance, theater, music, writing, or visual arts. Deadline: October 12, 2018, Cash awards up to $10,000 and master classes with world-renowned artists

Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards These scholarships are open to high school seniors of Hispanic heritage with GPA of 3.0 or higher including DACA students. Deadline: October 15, Amount: $1,000-  $3.500

Zombie Scholarship Essay scholarship open to students 13 years of age or older; 250-word essay on surviving a zombie apocalypse. Deadline: October 31, Amount: $2,500.

Cosmetology Scholarship Scholarship open to students planning to enroll in a cosmetology program during the next 12 months. Deadline: October 31, Amount: $2,500.

Essay contest on "why my vote matters" open to students in grades 9-12.Deadline: October 31, Amount: $30,000.

“Most Valuable Student” scholarship program Open to any U.S. high school senior (relation to Elks member not necessary).  500 awards will be made nationally to graduating seniors this year.  Eight MVS scholarships will be awarded to residents of Virginia.  Applicants will be judged on scholarship, leadership, and financial need Deadline: November 15, Amount: $4,000 to $50,000

Lee-Jackson Educational Foundation Scholarship Eighteen scholarships will be awarded to Virginia high school juniors and seniors submitting outstanding analytical essays on any aspect--positive or negative--of the career, character, or legacy of General Robert E. Lee and/or General "Stonewall" Jackson.  Deadline: Varies, Amount: up to $10,000

GEAR UP VA Divisions and Partners

Important Dates

September 24-28: National GEAR UP week

October 17-19: Virginia School Counselor Association Conference

November 2: 1st Reimbursement and Match Due for the Western Region

November 16: 1st Reimbursement and Match Due for the North Central and Eastern Regions

December 4: GUV Game and Movie Night

December 5: GUV State Partner Meeting

December 5-7: VCAN Conference in Norfolk

January 16: 2nd Reimbursement and Match Due for All

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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