Increasing Student Success through Community Partnerships and School College Access Teams
Duane Gregg and Kevin Edwards, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Tennessee Higher Education Commission logo

Thursday, April 25

Over the past several years, GEAR UP TN has developed and implemented a college access and success model that has demonstrated growth in the college-going culture in our schools and communities. The framework for this model centers on creating a college-going environment that is both sustainable without GEAR UP funding and also collaborative in its approach from both the school’s and community’s perspective. This presentation reviewed GEAR UP TN’s model with a particular focus on the use of community partnerships and school leadership teams to promote sustainability and cultivate a college-going culture. 

Community Partnerships: Every GEAR UP TN Collaborative is required to form a community-wide College Access Steering Committee that focuses on project sustainability, resource development, building new partnerships, and expanding a college-going culture in direct-service schools. These committees are composed of 10-20 individuals, and they meet 2-4 times per year. The individuals come from many different places within the community including K-12, local higher education institutions including technical schools, non-profit organizations, local government offices, businesses and industries, foundations, and student and parent groups. 

School Leadership Teams: We have also supported our GEAR UP sites in forming, training, and coordinating a team of teachers, counselors, staff, and administrators at each school (middle and high schools) whose focus is to support the school’s college-going culture and to be active and engaged in the schools’ efforts to develop college and career ready graduates. These individuals meet 3-4 times per year and focus on topics such as FAFSA completion, College Application and Career Exploration Week, College Signing Day, mentoring of students, and teaching college and career readiness “soft” skills.