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News Release: West Virginia students celebrate national initiative that helps them plan for life after high school

September 24, 2018

‘West Virginia GEAR UP’ assists thousands of West Virginia students with planning for an education or training beyond high school  CHARLESTON, W.Va. – This week, thousands of students in 10 West Virginia counties are celebrating a program that helps them prepare for postsecondary education. GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded program that helps to promote a college-going culture among schools all throughout the United States. In the Mountain State, the West Virginia GEAR UP program serves more than 5,000 students through activities that encourage and assist them in planning…

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Rising high school juniors to “GEAR UP” for college during annual college prep academy

June 25, 2018

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – This Wednesday, more than 220 rising high school juniors are expected to arrive in Huntington, WV, to participate in a summer academy that gives students a taste of college life. The West Virginia “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP) program will host its annual GEAR UP U event on the campus of Marshall University from Wednesday, June 27 to Saturday, June 30. GEAR UP U, which is coordinated by staff of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission), will give students the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills, to participate in team-building activities and to engage…

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West Virginia ‘GEAR UP’ to host college prep academy at Concord University

June 12, 2017

ATHENS, W.Va. – On Wednesday, nearly 200 high school sophomores are expected to arrive at Concord University to attend GEAR UP U, a summer academy designed to give students the opportunity to experience life on a college campus. The event, which runs this Wednesday, June 14 through Saturday, June 17, is sponsored by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s (HEPC’s) federally funded “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)” initiative. During GEAR UP U, students will live on the campus of Concord University, go to classes based on their chosen major and hone their leadership skills. Students will also participate in…

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WVNS: Summers County High Recognizes College Bound Seniors

May 5, 2017
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Report: More Mountain State students pursuing higher education

May 2, 2017

Braxton, Doddridge and Clay counties lead the way in improving college-going rates Charleston, W.Va. – More West Virginia high school graduates went on to pursue higher education last year, according to a report released today by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (CTCS). The college-going rate increased for the second consecutive year, inching up by 0.3 percent — or 266 students — from 2015 to 2016. “These gains, while subtle, represent a solid step in the right direction,” Dr. Paul Hill, HEPC Chancellor, said. “For several years, the impact of…

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Mingo Central High School College Decision Day 2016

High schools across West Virginia to participate in ‘College Decision Day’ events

April 18, 2017

Schools to celebrate students’ commitment to pursuing higher education CHARLESTON, W.Va. – High schools across West Virginia are hosting celebrations to honor seniors who plan to enroll in college or training programs after graduation. More than 40 schools will participate in the College Foundation of West Virginia’s (CFWV)’s fourth annual College Decision Day campaign. CFWV is a statewide college readiness initiative coordinated by the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and Community and Technical College System (CTCS). “Growing our economy will depend on growing the skills and capacity of our workforce,” Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the CTCS, said. “Students who commit to pursuing higher…

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West Virginia ‘GEAR UP’ to host Career Academy

April 10, 2017

More than 1,000 students expected to attend event featuring U.S. Senators, industry leaders, STEM celebrities CHARLESTON, W.VA. — More than 1,000 ninth graders are visiting Charleston this week to explore career fields and gain insight from business and industry leaders. The West Virginia GEAR UP Career Academy, happening Thursday, April 13, at the Charleston Civic Center, will feature hands-on activities and interactive presentations to help students learn about career paths and plan for their futures. The West Virginia GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) initiative is a federally funded grant program administered by the state’s Higher Education Policy…

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West Virginia GEAR UP launches Student Success Society in area high schools

January 19, 2017

New program to promote student involvement in school and the community   CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Brenda Smith, a counselor at Westside High School in Wyoming County, has been working with students for more than 30 years. Her experience has taught her that when students feel like they are part of something bigger, they are far more likely to succeed.   “Especially those students who might otherwise fade into the background,” Smith said. “Maybe they are shy or a little unmotivated. If you can find a way to give them that nudge — to get them involved — you can make…

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James Ikie Brooks

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Ikie’s College Dream

January 12, 2017

How grit, determination, and community support helped one West Virginia student in a dying town that is struggling to come to terms with a coal bust and opioid addiction By Julia Schmalz See the full-size video here The empty coal train creaking its way through Madison, W.Va., captured the attention of residents on the streets of the once-prosperous community. Located in Boone County, the heart of coal country, townspeople hoped it was a sign that a coal mine was reopening — somewhere. Devastated by the opioid epidemic and loss of good-paying jobs, Madison once supported three department stores. But that…

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2016 WV Higher Education Report Card

Higher ed ‘Report Card’: State colleges retaining, graduating more students

January 10, 2017

Statewide initiatives generating results despite budget challenges CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s state colleges and universities are retaining more students and have generated record numbers of graduates in recent years, thanks to statewide efforts to improve student success. However, continued positive results could be hindered by budget challenges and increased tuition costs, state higher education officials told members of Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA) today.  During the meeting, representatives from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (CTCS) provided an overview of findings from the annual West Virginia Higher…

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Class of 2017 FAFSA Completion Rates by WV County

College Foundation of West Virginia sets goal to increase FAFSA completion rates to 60 percent

December 1, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) today announced a goal to increase the number of 12th graders who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or “FAFSA,” to 60 percent by April 15. Students planning to attend college during the 2017-18 academic year can complete the FAFSA online now at using their 2015 tax returns. April 15 is the deadline for students to submit the form and be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program, which provides grants to students based on their financial need.  This past year (as of November 18), 58.5%…

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W.Va. sees gains in college freshmen enrollment

November 18, 2016

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The number of students entering a four-year college is on the rise in West Virginia, according to information reported during a meeting of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission held earlier today. State officials said the number of freshmen on West Virginia’s public four-year college campuses increased by 3.7 percent from last year.  “These increases are reflective of the strong emphasis the Commission and its partners have placed on college access and success,” Paul Hill, Chancellor of the Commission said. “West Virginia needs more college graduates to meet workforce demands and grow our economy. I…

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Governor Tomblin proclaims “College Application and Exploration Week”

October 31, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (October 31, 2016) – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proclaimed this week as “College Application and Exploration Week” in recognition of the statewide campaign organized by the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV). Staff from nearly 450 schools will host college-planning activities throughout the week to help students consider their postsecondary education opportunities. Students who attend participating schools – from pre-schools to centers for adult learners – will learn the importance of pursuing some form of education or training beyond high school and the types of opportunities that are available in West Virginia, including certificate and technical programs,…

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Gazette-Mail: Mascots dance off during college-going event

October 27, 2016

More than 1,500 ninth grade students participating in the West Virginia GEAR UP program packed into the Clay Center for the Arts for the student leadership academy. The program is a college readiness project coordinated by the state Higher Education Policy Commission and funded by the federal government. It serves students in 10 counties including Fayette, Boone, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wyoming and Wirt. Wednesday’s event featured speakers including Josh Shipp, a nationally renowned youth leadership coach, Paul Hill, chancellor of the state Higher Education Policy Commission, and Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the state Community and Technical College…

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1,500 students to attend ‘GEAR UP’ student leadership academy in Charleston

October 24, 2016

For planning purposes:  When: Wednesday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   What: A leadership academy to inform students of college options and empower them to take charge of their futures. West Virginia GEAR UP will host a leadership academy featuring a presentation from Josh Shipp, a nationally renowned youth leadership coach. Additionally, college mascots from across West Virginia will present dance routines incorporating college information during a “Mascot Mania” dance-off contest.    Agenda: 10 AM: Opening remarks featuring Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community…

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Kendyl Ryan

Kendyl Ryan: Push aside fear and pursue your dreams

September 27, 2016

Originally published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Daily Mail editorial page. Earlier this week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined leaders across the nation in proclaiming this week “National GEAR UP Week,” highlighting the importance of going to college and encouraging students to pursue their dreams. It’s common knowledge that a high school education simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Going into an interview with a college degree gives the candidate an automatic edge over a candidate with a high school diploma. This is particularly true in West Virginia. According to statistics provided by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, half of…

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Governor Tomblin declares ‘GEAR UP Week’ in recognition of college readiness program

September 19, 2016

West Virginia GEAR UP helps thousands of students gain education and training beyond high school CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Sept. 19, 2016) – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today proclaimed this week as “GEAR UP Week” to recognize the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative, a program funded by the United States Department of Education to help students pursue and achieve some form of education or training beyond high school. This week has been declared “National GEAR UP Week” by program partners across the country. “GEAR UP is an exemplary program that has had a proven, positive impact…

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GEAR UP 2016 Participants

West Virginia students ‘GEAR UP’ for college during summer academy at West Virginia State University

August 9, 2016

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – This summer, students had the chance to experience life on a college campus during GEAR UP U, a college preparation academy held June 22-25 at West Virginia State University. More than 130 students from central and southern West Virginia attended the event, which was hosted by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s federally funded “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)” initiative. GEAR UP offers free services in ten counties to help more students enroll and succeed in higher education and advanced training programs.  Students took classes taught by college professors, participated in leadership workshops and gained…

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Gazette-Mail: High school students work with educators to get classmates to college

August 1, 2016

MORGANTOWN — Nearly 500 educators came to Morgantown for a two-day Student Success Summit, a conference that tries to connect the dots between educators of every grade, from preschool all the way through college. Here, students aren’t seen as passive recipients in the education system. They are not just kids to be taught at for eight hours a day. They are partners in education, a source of new ideas and an opportunity to try new things. Several of the panels and even the keynote address from Mark Moore, director of the state Department of Education’s Employee Development Center, highlighted ways…

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PK-12, higher education leaders to discuss future of education in W.Va. during sixth annual Student Success Summit

July 26, 2016

Summit to focus on collaboration, action to improve state’s education systems MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Nearly 500 education administrators, teachers, students, military leaders and community group members will join forces this week to find better ways to support students and increase educational achievement in the Mountain State.   The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Department of Education will host the sixth annual statewide Student Success Summit on Wednesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 28 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center in Morgantown.  The Summit focuses on encouraging collaboration across the full length of the education…

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Dr. Adam S. Green was named “2016 GEAR UP Professional of the Year” by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. Dr. Green was recognized for developing and expanding multiple programs and services to help West Virginia students pursue education and training beyond high school.

W.Va. higher education administrator receives national recognition for promoting college access

July 19, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Dr. Adam S. Green, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, was honored in Washington, D.C. yesterday for his work in assisting students in earning a college diploma. Dr. Green was presented the national “GEAR UP Professional of the Year,” award during the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships conference.  The award is given to one or two individuals each year who have demonstrated outstanding work in promoting the goals of the “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)” project,…

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College Foundation of West Virginia sees promising early results in providing college counseling through text messaging

July 18, 2016

Charleston, W.Va. – During a meeting of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission held today, state officials announced that a pilot project to provide college counseling through text messaging is yielding encouraging results. The project, which is part of the Commission’s statewide College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) outreach initiative, provides students with a series of text message reminders to help them succeed in college. Students can text back anytime to receive free assistance from a counselor.  Dr. Ben Castleman and Katharine Meyer, researchers from the University of Virginia, recently released a working paper outlining early results from the effort. Their…

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For class of 2016, more than 3,500 students awarded PROMISE scholarship

July 13, 2016

West Virginia providing $92 million in college financial aid this academic year Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission today announced that more than 3,500 students who graduated from high school this year have been awarded PROMISE Scholarships, annual awards of up to $4,750 they can use beginning this fall toward tuition and fees at colleges and universities in West Virginia.  Students are receiving award letters in their mailboxes this week. Additional PROMISE Scholarships may be awarded as eligible students are identified through June 2016 ACT and SAT testing scores.  “Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia…

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200 eighth grade students to attend ‘GEAR UP U’ at West Virginia State University

June 21, 2016

For Planning Purposes: June 21, 2016 Contact: Jessica Kennedy, Director of Communications and Outreach Division of Student Affairs (304) 532-0911 – cell 200 eighth grade students to attend ‘GEAR UP U’ at West Virginia State University When: June 22-25, 2016 What: GEAR UP U is a four-day, three-night summer academy for West Virginia GEAR UP students in the eighth grade. Students will live on campus, learn more about college, participate in classes, develop leadership skills, and meet students from across the state. Additional information, including the camp schedule, is available at Who: 200 eighth grade students participating in…

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James Ikie Brooks

West Virginia student named to national ‘GEAR UP’ leadership academy

June 13, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – James “Ikie” Brooks, a native of Boone County, has been selected to participate in the highly competitive “GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy,” (GUALA) a 12-month national leadership program providing students across the country with intensive training in civic engagement and community development. The GUALA program identifies students with exceptional leadership potential and provides training to help them engage their peers, schools and communities in creating a college-going culture. Brooks, a junior at Marshall University, was one of 24 students selected from a nationwide pool of applicants made up of students who have graduated from high schools served by the federal…

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