GEAR UP Newsletter: Fall 2014


Teena Olszewski 142x120
Teena Olszewski

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Arizona GEAR UP Newsletter. 

Arizona GEAR UP 2012-19 is a federal grant program administered by Northern Arizona University, the fourth of its kind since 2000. 

Aimed at assisting students in “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” the State program is noted for the significant increase in the number of students from 40 of Arizona’s neediest schools, graduating high school and going to college in 2006 and 2012.

The current seven-year grant helps a cohort of 4,000 students in 30 rural schools on their journeys to education and training beyond high school; seeks to sustainably improve in 300+ schools, the readiness of middle-grade students for college and careers; and, leverages key education initiatives with a number of state and local partners.

The purpose of this publication is to broadly inform of GEAR UP successes and achievements in Arizona.  We hope through our feature stories, profiles of success, data briefs, happenings, updates, etc. – you get to know us better, and together, we do more  to advance students’ success in postsecondary education, training and life.  Thank you in advance for tuning in and adding us to your network.

Teena Olszewski
Executive Director

Arizona GEAR UP in Action

Hector Araujo

Hector Araujo: A GEAR UP Success Story in AZ & DC

The young man in a dark suit dashing through office hallways in Washington, D.C. fits perfectly into that city’s fast-paced, quick-thinking environment. But meet Hector Araujo and you very learn quickly that absolutely nothing about him is typical.

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Profile of Success

Challenge Course

GEAR UP students from all over Arizona gathered on the NAU Flagstaff campus in June for the week-long GEAR UP Summer Leadership Academy (GUSLA). GUSLA motivates students to succeed academically in high school, enhance their study, communication and positive decision-making skills, develop leadership techniques and achieve personal goals. One student from GEAR UP's Holbrook Middle School partnership said they learned to “Try new things – even when you don’t want to!”

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Gear Up Professional of the Year

Arizona GEAR UP Leader Earns National Recognition

Teena Olszewski, GEAR UP’s leader in Arizona, has been named GEAR UP Professional of the Year by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP).

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Did You Know?

Explore image

84% of Arizona's eighth graders from 294 schools participating in the Arizona EXPLORE Program, completed an Education and Career Action Plan in

Data Matters

Data matters

Data and Continuous Improvement: Keys to GEAR UP Success

From grant cycle to grant cycle, the percentage of Arizona GEAR UP students graduating high school and enrolling in postsecondary education has significantly exceeded state graduation and college-going rates. Arizona GEAR UP works by using student data to inform every aspect of the project, central to a program management cycle that promotes continuous improvement.

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Arizona GEAR UP Happenings

September 22, 2014
National GEAR UP Week 

National GEAR UP Week

Local GEAR UP schools and communities are invited to “Celebrate, Advocate and Be Heard Across the Nation”.

October 1-24, 2014
Early College and Career Readiness Testing

ACT Explore

46,000 students across Arizona are scheduled to take ACT's  EXPLORE assessment. The results provide an early indication of college readiness and help students explore the world of opportunities available to them beyond high school.

October 26, 2014
GEAR UP West Conference - Seattle, WA


GEAR UP and other college access professionals will be in attendance at the annual GEAR UP West Conference in Seattle, Washington. All those working to help low-income and underrepresented students prepare for and succeed in college are welcome to attend. For more information or to register for the conference click here.

AZ GEAR UP in the News

Marching towards college

Marching toward college

At Fox Creek Junior High School in Mohave County, GEAR UP coordinator Amber Parker-DeWitt organized a March Madness project. Teachers worked with Expect More Arizona to help students celebrate the importance of creating a college plan.

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Toltec students prepare

Toltec Students Prepare

GEAR UP coordinator April Ortega launched a district-wide Career Day for Toltec students. More than just a career day, it was a community event. Area professionals – 18 in all – met with students to talk about career and education.

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We'd love to hear from you

For more information about Northern Arizona University and the Arizona GEAR UP program please visit our website or call (602) 776-4616.

We love hearing from you! Please send questions and comments to