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Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally funded program designed to significantly increase the number of low-income students who attend and graduate from a college or university. The local chapter, Project Systemwide Training for Educational Post-Secondary Success, or Project STEPS, began in 2011 with a cohort of seventh graders from Richard E. Byrd, Roy Romer, Sun Valley, and Van Nuys middle schools and will follow them through graduation from Francis Polytechnic, North Hollywood, Sun Valley, and Van Nuys high schools in 2017. Project STEPS supports these students and their families by providing academic support and counseling, tutoring, mentors, summer enrichment programs, SAT testing, college-level courses, parent workshops, college tours and opportunities for personal development. These services are made possible through collaborative efforts with the Los Angeles Unified School District(LAUSD), All Aboard Tours & Travel, Cal State University, Northridge, Chicano-a Latino-a Educational Foundation(CLEF), Families in Schools, Parent Institute for Quality Education(PIQE), Quantum Learning Network, Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) & City Lab, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, STAR Education, Archipelago Learning’s Study Island, The College Board, UCLA Early Academic Outreach Program and Woodbury University.
College: Making It Happen is designed to provide college preparatory information to parents of middle school students in order to enable them to assist and support their children to plan and prepare academically and financially for educational opportunities after high school graduation. This family conference emphasizes the required academic preparation for college success, how parents can positively impact student achievement, and ways of financing a college education. College: Making It Happen engages the entire family in a daylong program, consisting of parent workshops, structured grade level student programs, a college fair, a book fair, and campus tours. Reaching more than 20,000 family members over the past fourteen years, this family conference has proven to be a meaningful opportunity for parents and students of the San Fernando Valley to learn about higher education opportunities and college readiness.