State and Local Collaborations
The Arizona GEAR UP grant is premised on strategic and meaningful partnerships with other organizations that, like NAU GEAR UP, are committed to significantly increasing the number of low-income students in Arizona who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. These partnerships and collaborations leverage resources, build capacity, support priorities, and increase access related to GEAR UP goals from which both current and future students benefit.
Statewide Initiatives Accordion Open
College Access Professional (CAP) Training
Since 2013, AZ GEAR UP has partnered with the AZ College Access Network (AzCAN) to promote counselors’ and college access practitioners’ attainment of high-quality on-line training and certification as college access professionals (‘CAP Training’). Districts in which at least three educators complete the online “College and Career Advising in the Middle Schools” course of the CAP Training curriculum are certified as ‘Early College and Career Awareness Districts.’
GEAR UP has been involved in this statewide Arizona initiative in many ways, including:
- received federal approval in 2013 to partner with AzCAN to bring the national curriculum to Arizona and paid the fee for AzCAN to become the licensee
- assisted in ongoing customization of the curriculum to include Arizona-specific resources
- served to continuously advise program development and implementation, including marketing
- supported four GEAR UP staff in becoming trained facilitators, eligible to teach CAP training
- dedicated one staff person to serve as ‘CAP Training Leader’ to AzCAN
- secured commitment from two NAU professors to incorporate the curriculum into their pre-service counseling program, and supported their training to become facilitators.
More information about CAP training can be found on our CAP Page.
Middle Grade Initiative
From 2015 to 2018, AZ GEAR UP partnered with 16 middle schools/junior high schools in rural, high poverty communities – the feeder schools to the Cohort Student Service schools – to help build a college-going culture and increase students’ college awareness early in their academic journey. Through this initiative, school staff (teachers, administrators and others) engaged in two annual self-assessments, one of their school culture and one of their students’ academic progress, and planned activities, services and programs to address identified deficiencies. Recognizing that “the level of academic achievement that students attain by the eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school” (The Forgotten Middle, 2008), the Middle Grade Initiative promoted use of data to inform improvements in curriculum and instruction (early readiness), as well as students’ preparation and motivation for a full range of postsecondary options (early awareness). Some of the tools used by the Initiative are available on our Resources page, including a College and Career Readiness Rubric, Strategies for Building a College-Going Culture, and Classroom Connections, lesson plans with embedded college information that help make science and math relevant and engaging.
Starting in 2010, in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, and continuing to 2015, AZ GEAR UP partnered with over 300 middle-grade schools in the state to administer ACT’s EXPLORE assessment to over 40,000 eighth grade students each year. The EXPLORE was a “pre-ACT’ test, that assessed whether students were on track to be college and career ready assuming normal progress from 8th through 12th grade. Results from EXPLORE that indicated students were not on-track, provided important information that students, parents and schools could act on to intervene and improve students’ trajectories. The EXPLORE also included a career inventory component. AZ GEAR UP staff hosted training workshops throughout the state to prepare counselors and teachers to explain individual EXPLORE test results to students and their parents, and to analyze the aggregate results to determine whether any changes were needed to the school’s curriculum or instruction. This initiative ended when ACT, Inc. discontinued the EXPLORE.
Collaborative Partnerships Accordion Closed
Arizona K-12 Center
Arizona K12 Center—part of the NAU College of Education—develops and facilitates professional development for Arizona educators to improve teaching and leadership. For Arizona GEAR UP middle schools, the Center teaches educators how to enhance math instruction and student learning through collaborative and reflective processes. Based on student-centered research, content provides academic standards, best practices, and program evaluation.
Arizona Business & Education Coalition (ABEC)
ABEC supports collaboration between business and education leaders to increase measurable outcomes for every student and inspires middle school students to become their own best advocate through the Middle School Exploration Careers project. Students explore career options through hands-on activities and real-world experience with professional experts. ABEC provides a vital link between school success and the workforce as it nurtures career aspirations of students.
Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE)
ACPE expands access and increases success in postsecondary education for Arizonans. Since 1997, ACPE has assisted with more than 65,000 FAFSA filings. It shares student-level FAFSA completion data with Arizona GEAR UP partner schools to help counselors monitor and respond to student FAFSA status. ACPE also coordinates and hosts college application and FAFSA completion events at target schools.
Be a leader Foundation (BALF)
BALF increases postsecondary success for underrepresented students through mentorship and leadership development. For Arizona GEAR UP, the Foundation helps ease the transition from high school to college by capacity building with school counselors. By employing a case management approach, students receive individualized support with the college and financial-aid application process to increase postsecondary enrollment.
Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA)
CFA leads Arizona Pathways to Prosperity to create meaningful change in Arizona’s workforce and educational systems. Through career literacy and work-based learning opportunities, it provides career exploration in high-demand fields. Additionally, CFA helps close the student-achievement gap with its Beat the Odds Leadership Academy, which creates a culture of high expectations to close achievement gaps and increase academic performance.
College Success Arizona (CSA)
CSA helps students from all backgrounds stay on track to graduate from college, which includes help with postsecondary planning, ACT/SAT tests, college applications, FAFSA completion, parental involvement, and financial literacy. CSA also provides College Access Professional training for educators across the state to advise and support students who enroll in Arizona universities.
Expect More Arizona (EMA)
EMA advocates for critical education issues and family engagement in student success. It promotes access to world-class education to all Arizona students through a statewide communications campaign and outreach strategies. By convening statewide partners, EMA brings diverse communities together to deepen the college-going culture, which supports student achievement and helps increase postsecondary success in Arizona.
Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation enriches the lives of students and creates opportunities to succeed in postsecondary education. Through strategic partnerships, it helps ensure academic preparation for students at every stage of education. Because of Helios Education Foundation, every senior in Arizona GEAR UP 5E schools and A60 schools receive a Senior Launch Guide, a tool which facilitates postsecondary career exploration.
National Council for Community and Education Partnerships’ Career and College Clubs (NCCEP)
NCCEP’s College and Career Clubs curriculum helps underserved students, grades 7 through 12, plan for postsecondary options. The program available to GEAR UP 5E middle-grade schools, 5E high schools, and A60 schools, seeks to increase the number of students who enroll and complete postsecondary education. The peer-led curriculum standards identify knowledge, skills, and actions students must master in to be college and career ready upon graduation from high school.
Student Success Agency (SSA)
SSA empowers students to realize their dreams with a robust digital mentoring program. Mentoring services include social/emotional development, financial aid support, and college advising to increase high school graduation and postsecondary understanding, enrollment, and success.