GEAR UP Conference Celebrates Ten Years of Success

Summer 2009 | | November 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

From the Director

The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and the GEAR UP program celebrated 10 years of service at the annual conference in San Francisco in July.  Over 2,000 participants joined the celebration, sharing ideas, practices and resources to take back to the 46 states and 4 territories with GEAR UP program grants.  Special guests for the celebration included Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Greg Darnieder and Lynn Mahaffie (U.S. Department of Education).  The welcome address was given by Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and included a proclamation of Monday July 20 as GEAR UP Day in the city!    

Highlights for California GEAR UP:

Congressman Chaka Fattah  – the author of the original legislation that established our program – met with students and program staff from the Valley High School Collaboration.  The African American male students shared good news about the Leadership Skills Initiative (LSI) at Valley.  The Congressman encouraged these 11th grade students to continue in their academic pursuits and to support each other. California GEAR UP recognized this opportunity with a special award for the Congressman and LSI gear for his son, Chaka Fattah, Jr., also present for this memorable occasion.  Following the meeting, the students enjoyed lunch with the Congressman.

Greg Darnieder, Special Assistant on College Access at the U.S. Department of Education, provided information to participants about current college access funding challenges, and technical assistance designed to assist GEAR UP grantees.  It was especially encouraging to learn of additional funds that have been made available through the Obama Administration for innovative and successful initiatives to support ALL students and families. 

Lynn Mahaffie, Director, Teacher and Student Development Programs Service at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) reported on progress on Capitol Hill, the status of program legislation, and positive changes at the department.  A long time friend and advocate for our program, her comments indicated continued and increased support for college access programs and GEAR UP, in particular.  

Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, was introduced by the California GEAR UP Director, making special mention of his accomplishments and advocacy on behalf of educators, students and families.  In his remarks the Mayor talked about the successful partnerships with GEAR UP schools in his city.  The youngest Mayor in San Francisco for many years, he has championed initiatives and programs to address the needs of this diverse school community.

Saving the best until last, California GEAR UP hosted Pacoima Middle School staff from the leadership team at the National Conference. Principal Marcy Hamm, Title 1 Coordinator/GEAR UP site contact Lorraine Armelin, Math Department Chair Eduardo Contreras, and Counselor Jaimie Sennett joined participants from across the country in standing up to be recognized during the Roll Call of the GEAR UP States.  Vance Mills, School Based Services Manager, shared that the team was “absolutely blown away by the energy, excitement and passion of this celebration.”  

As schools open their doors for another year, the GEAR UP family is ready to serve and support communities across California.  While we face a difficult time in education, together we will continue the good work for ALL educators, students and families.  

You Are the Change You Wish to See~  

Shelley Davis 


Shelley Davis, California GEAR UP Director, and Dr. Hector Garza, NCCEP president lead the cheers of the conference attendees.


Introduced by California GEAR UP Director Shelley Davis, Gavin Newson, Mayor of San Francisco, speaks about successful GEAR UP partnerships.


Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania with the GEAR UP Valley High School staff and some of the Leadership Skills Initiative (LSI) students

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