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
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to significantly increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education, NAU has partnered with ACT, Inc. ACT is a nonprofit organization driven by its mission, vision and values to help people achieve education and workplace success. ACT actively supported Arizona GEAR UP’s statewide EXPLORE Program and Middle Grade Initiative through 2015, providing college and career ready testing materials and sponsoring summits to examine data, review trends, and share best practices. ACT additionally, as a partner in the multi-state, national GEAR UP College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium, of which Arizona is a member, provides invaluable longitudinal research and analyses of GEAR UP students’ academic performance and growth (as measured by the EXPLORE, Aspire-10, and ACT assessments).
Arizona Business & Education Coalition
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to college and career readiness beginning in the middle grades, NAU has partnered with the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC). ABEC is a public-private partnership focused on providing a sustained business and education collaboration for a superior education for Arizona’s K-12 students. With support from Arizona GEAR UP annually through 2019, ABEC’s Middle School Career Exploration Project introduces middle school students to a variety of career choices, increases awareness of their interests and aptitudes, enables students to connect coursework to career options, and engages parents in the career exploration process.
Arizona College Access Network (ACAN) Fund
AZ GEAR UP joined with other organizations and individuals, including the Virginia G Piper Charitable Trust, USA funds, and the City of Phoenix, to establish a collaborative fund administered by the Arizona Community Foundation to support college access efforts in the state. Since its creation in the fall of 2007, nearly $3.7M from the ACAN fund has been distributed to advance educational equity and college access efforts in the state, including:
- start-up, replication or sustaining of college access centers including College Depot in Phoenix, the Northern Arizona College Resource Center in Flagstaff , and Tempe College Connect
- creation and distribution of a College & Career Planning Guide for middle school students statewide
- licensing and provision of College Access Professional Training statewide
- financial support for low-income students across the state to take AP, IB and Cambridge tests at no cost
- financial support for Arizona Ready for College and Career Program’s AmeriCorps Mentors’ placement in select communities across Arizona
- expanding professional development opportunities for teachers through the Arizona K-12 Center
- supporting public awareness campaigns and communication efforts related to college knowledge, enrollment and persistence.
Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to ensuring financial literacy and a level-playing field for students from low-income communities, NAU has partnered with the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE). The mission of the ACPE is to expand access and increase success in postsecondary education for all Arizonans, through promoting financial assistance and implementing strategies to help students and families plan, enter and succeed in postsecondary education. NAU GEAR UP and ACPE collaborate on common K-16 issues, and ACPE provides a host of financial literacy and other college resource publications to NAU and its many GEAR UP school partners.
Arizona Community Foundation
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to support the start-up and sustainability of local college access initiatives statewide, NAU has partnered with the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF). ACF administers the Arizona College Access Network (ACAN) collaborative fund, comprised of contributions from multiple partners (nonprofits, foundations, businesses, etc.) committed to pooling resources as a means to support shared college-access endeavors. Through ACAN, Arizona GEAR UP has leveraged resources to support the City of Phoenix College Depot, the Northern Arizona College Resource Center, Tempe College Connect, K-12 Center Professional Development for rural GEAR UP schools, and other innovative initiatives aimed at increasing college preparation and access for students from low-income communities.
Arizona Department of Education
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to enhancing capacity and efficiency for data-driven decision making by NAU GEAR UP schools, NAU has partnered with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Student Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). The ADE SLDS is an integrated system available to the Arizona P-20 community that imports data from different sources, provides secure portals and gateways to appropriate staff to review accuracy of information, integrates data visualizations to communicate information clearly, and produces student, teacher, school and district academic growth calculations using a variety of methodologies. NAU GEAR UP and ADE are additionally partners in championing the development of a system in which all students become career literate through the implementation of ECAPs (Education and Career Action Plans).
College Success Arizona
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to ensure financial and other support for students who have worked hard to prepare themselves for successful postsecondary educational journeys, NAU has partnered with College Success Arizona (CSA). CSA awards scholarships to talented, low-income, college-ready students who have been served by college preparatory partner organizations, and additionally provides recipients with mentoring and advising services. With millions of NAU GEAR UP dollars provided to CSA for scholarships, CSA has helped hundreds of Arizona students served by GEAR UP in attaining their baccalaureate degrees. NAU GEAR UP additionally secured the licensing agreement to bring CSA’s on-line training for College Access Professionals (CAP) to Arizona, and provides support to CSA’s Arizona College Access Network (AzCAN) in promoting, facilitating, and expanding the training statewide.
Expect More Arizona
As part of Arizona GEAR UP’s commitment to high expectations, building awareness of critical education issues, and the importance of parent and family engagement in student success, NAU has partnered with Expect More Arizona (EMA). EMA is a statewide non-partisan organization dedicated to making education a top priority in Arizona, and creating a high-expectations culture where every child has access to a world-class education and graduates from high school prepared for college and career. With support from Arizona GEAR UP annually through 2019, EMA’s statewide mobilizers provide information and resources to support parents, families, and educators in GEAR UP schools and offer direct support to the GEAR UP cohorts, their families, and communities. EMA additionally implements public campaigns to meet parents where they are, shares stories of excellence in GEAR UP communities and statewide, and provides presentations at local and statewide events on timely education issues. Lastly, GEAR UP and EMA have partnered for several years on the production and dissemination of the Create Your Next College and Career Planning Guide/online tool for use by students across Arizona.