Whether you are a new grantee or have been part of our community since GEAR UP’s inception, all of us at NCCEP and the U.S. Department of Education are thrilled to help improve our collective impact on students, families, and communities.
It is our shared mission that makes this year’s theme of unity so relevant. We must celebrate our impact and rich history as a social movement, but at the same time, strive for even greater heights. With this in mind, our theme sets the tone for our time together—Together We Rise: Excel, Prove, Mobilize.
All of you are working diligently to make post-secondary education a reality for hundreds of thousands of students. While our needs and unique characteristics may differ, our shared purpose and values weave together a powerful and united community under the GEAR UP banner. Our effectiveness, scope, and scale have positioned our community as the leading college readiness and success program.
At the same time, we know that we are only scratching the surface of what we’re capable of as a community. We must strive to continually evolve and improve so that that our work this year is more impactful than last year, and even better the next. If GEAR UP is to thrive for generations to come, we won’t get there by mission driven intent alone, but rather, we will need to adapt to meet a new set of social, political, and research challenges. As we unite with 1,700 national leaders and practitioners, community partners, parents, and students, our long-term success will be found in the convergence of three essential strategies:
- We must continually excel at our work to maximize student success;
- We must prove that GEAR UP works and build the research and evaluation infrastructure required to guide improvements to our programs and ensure our sustainability; and
- We must mobilize our communities, states, and the nation around our success to forge the political will to serve a greater number of students across our nation.
I know that the road ahead won’t be easy, but I am convinced that our community is up for the challenge. If we stand together, commit to exceptional service, and selflessly champion the needs of our communities, we will rise together.
In this spirit of unity, commit to learning and sharing, and most importantly, energize your own mission-driven commitment knowing you are part of this powerful GEAR UP family!
President & CEO National Council for Community and Education Partnerships