Many non-profit organizations around the U.S. work to impact their respective communities. However, no non-profit organization runs the same. Located in Dupont Circle of Washington, D.C., The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships utilizes its charitable efforts to increase access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students.
The national non-profit, non-partisan organization incubated in 1999, stands firm in its motto of “fostering equity through education” by establishing community-education partnerships, strengthening research-based college access programs, promoting sound federal public policy and developing tools and resources to provide educational opportunities for all students.
“The most gratifying part of working for NCCEP is to know that the work we are doing is helping thousands of students across the country pursue their passions. Like me, their path to postsecondary education may not be a clear one, and it is for them that I wake up every morning looking forward to my work,” said Katie Hill, Associate Director for Government Relations.
As part of NCCEP’s mission to strengthen research-based college access programs, NCCEP represents GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) a discretionary grant program initiative of the Department of Education.
The GEAR UP initiative offers state and partnership grants for up to six years to provide services to over 551,000 students attending middle and high schools in low-economic communities across 43 states and 1 territory. States and partnerships that receive the competitive grant serve a cohort of students from seventh grade through high school, along with funding to provide underprivileged students with college scholarships.
“As a College Adviser at Ecorse Community High School, my participation in GEAR UP led me to this position. GEAR UP provided me with leaders and role models to follow and guide me while in high school. The GEAR UP staff at Central Michigan University showed me that higher education was attainable and worthwhile. After transitioning to Oakland University I began to work for GEAR UP. That experience and opportunity showed me that more people are needed to assist in developing our youth and assisting with their education,” said Americorps College Adviser, La’Asia Johnson.
Each September, NCCEP encourages students, parents, teachers, partners and professionals to celebrate GEAR UP and the initiative's successes across the country with National GEAR UP week.
“The most memorable experience I’ve had was being able to talk to the people involved in GEAR UP and hearing what a difference it made, said University of Hawaii student,” Victoria Cuba.
This year’s 2016 National GEAR UP week will take place September 19th through September 23rd, and serves as an annual opportunity to raise awareness of the impact that GEAR UP is making locally and nationally.
“Providing educational opportunities for all students is critical for the future of our economy and our democracy. Numerous statistics and anecdotal evidence support the claim that a postsecondary education is critical not only on an individual level, but also at the societal level. We need educated contributors in our country and our world in order to move forward,” said Hill.