Concord University recognized nationally for ‘GEAR UP’ partnership


Pictured: Dr. Marjie Flanigan, Vice President of Student Affairs at Concord University (right); Melissa Gattuso, College Access and Success Program Director for West Virginia GEAR UP (left)

Pictured: Dr. Marjie Flanigan, Vice President of Student Affairs at Concord University (right); Melissa Gattuso, College Access and Success Program Director for West Virginia GEAR UP (left)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) announced today that Concord University has been named the 2015 national “GEAR UP Community Partner of the Year.” Concord was recognized for its support of the West Virginia GEAR UP program, a federally funded grant program to help students from low-income areas prepare for college.

West Virginia GEAR UP serves more than 5,000 students annually in 10 West Virginia counties. The project is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission), which received its second consecutive GEAR UP grant last year. 

Dr. Marjie Flanigan, Vice President of Student Affairs at Concord University, traveled to the NCCEP National Conference in San Francisco to accept the award. 

“This is an outstanding honor for our university,” Dr. Flanigan said. “We believe it is a key part of our mission to make sure that all West Virginians have access to high-quality higher education programs. Our collaboration with the GEAR UP project has helped us work hand-in-hand with our communities to eliminate and overcome barriers that might prevent students from pursuing their dreams of earning a college diploma.” 

Concord University has served as an official partner of the West Virginia GEAR UP project since the Commission received its first GEAR UP grant in 2008. Since then, Concord has hosted numerous college preparation programs, including dozens of financial aid workshops, two five-day residential summer academies and annual college “prep rallies” that have provided hands-on college-planning experiences for thousands of students. 

Concord also helped launch the Commission’s “Txt 4 Success” program, a free service that provides students with college-planning reminders and allows them to interact with counselors by text messaging. Additionally, Concord has worked with elementary, middle and high school teachers to integrate college preparation activities within area schools and has offered more than half a million dollars in scholarships to students graduating from high schools participating in the GEAR UP program. 

“Concord University’s dedication to helping our students succeed is exemplary,” Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the Commission, said. “They have recognized that West Virginia’s future success is contingent on increasing the educational attainment of our citizens. They have an open-door policy and offer college-planning help to all students  — regardless of whether or not those students ultimately plan to attend Concord. Their commitment to increasing access to higher education and ensuring student success is visionary and has yielded meaningful, positive impacts for our state.” 

GEAR UP, which stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” is a national initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides services to approximately 551,000 students in low-income schools across 43 states and 1 territory. More information about the Community Partner of the Year Award can be found at the NCCEP website, www.edpartnerships.org

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