Gates County Schools Awarded GEAR UP NC Grant

In 2019, the University of North Carolina System received $25.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) state grant. Through a competitive process, Gates County Schools was recently chosen to participate.

“Central Middle School has been graced with the opportunity for a seven-year grant that will provide academic advisement and programs for our students at the middle school level in preparation for high school and postsecondary education. We are very proud and excited that our students have been given the opportunity that this grant will provide in hopes that it will give our students who are first generation achievers the zeal to go forth and be a college graduate,” stated Ms. Kelly L. Eure, Principal of Central Middle School.

A postsecondary credential is key to improving economic outcomes in our society. As such, it must be made more accessible to all students. GEAR UP is a national college access initiative that directly engages students in partner schools with academic readiness and college admission support over the course of their middle school and high school careers. The program has proven to significantly increase the number of students in disadvantaged communities who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Mentorship continues for students as college freshmen. Additionally, GEAR UP NC engages 12th grade students with support through a full-time onsite college advisor. “Gates County High School is excited about the opportunities the GEAR UP grant will provide to the students of Gates County. The additional resources made available to our students and teachers will be invaluable to our school community,” said Mr. Jonathan Hayes, Principal of Gates County High School. “We are looking forward to the support this grant will provide to our counselors in helping students and their families with regard to increasing awareness and knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation and financing.”

“Gates County Schools is proud to be a recipient of the GEAR UP grant that will allow us to partner with the GEAR UP NC Program. Excitement is in the air as we prepare to implement this new initiative that will provide new and exciting opportunities for our students, families and schools. We embrace this opportunity and look forward to the reward our students will receive from it,” emphasized Mrs. Tammy R. Boone, Assistant Superintendent of Gates County Schools.

GEAR UP will touch and influence all students at Central Middle School and Gates County High School. Detailed benefits include providing comprehensive advising, outreach and supportive services to students; providing information regarding financial aid for postsecondary education to students; encouraging student enrollment in rigorous and challenging curricula and coursework in order to reduce the need for remedial coursework at the postsecondary level and increasing the number of students who complete applications for and enroll in a program of postsecondary education.

“Gates County Schools has made it a priority to ensure that all students are provided with the opportunity to achieve their individual goals. The GEAR UP grant is another resource our school district will utilize to expose students to opportunities beyond high school and provide the tools necessary to access those opportunities,” asserted Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools. “I am excited and proud that Gates County Schools is a recipient of the GEAR UP NC grant program and know the program will make a positive impact on the lives of our students and their families.”

GEAR UP NC will begin in Gates County during the 2020 -2021 school year.


Gates County Community Partnership Gives Scholarships to North Carolina Promise Recipients

Gates County Community Partnership presented full tuition one-year scholarships to North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan recipients Cheyenne Umphlette and Damari Holley, both 2020 graduates of Gates County High School. Cheyenne will be attending Western Carolina University and Damari will be attending Elizabeth City State University.

"As an organization founded to support the educational aspirations of the students of Gates County, we are again pleased to support our scholars during their postsecondary journey,” said Gates County Community Partnership director Brian Rountree.

The North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan is a program of the State of North Carolina established to increase access to a quality university education through the University of North Carolina system. Students who qualify receive reduced rate tuition with the remainder supplemented by the state.

"Congratulations Cheyenne Umphlette and Damari Holley! Because of your dedication and distinction, the least we can do is offer encouragement,” emphasized Gates County Community Partnership director Sherley Jones, Jr. “Live out your passions and dreams. If you do, great things are ahead.”

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth. For more information, please see www.gatescountycp.org.


Saunders Science Scholars Receives $500,000 Gift to Expand in Gates County

The Saunders Science Scholars program will add 15 additional scholars in a new cohort of 6th grade students from Central Middle School. In addition, supplementary services will be expanded throughout Gates County Schools through 2026. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, the producing institution, will hire full-time staff to manage the program as they have been tasked to ensure that all 30 Scholars attend college.

Funding for the expansion comes from The Butts Charitable Trust. The goal of the program is to provide equal access and opportunities in education to students in rural North Carolina.

The expansion will have a beneficial impact on Gates County, providing more students the chance to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Benjamin C. Saunders Jr., President of Gates County Community Partnership, believes the program is inspiring a positive change locally. “This is an amazing time for the Gates County community. The expansion allows the Saunders Science Scholars to intimately touch 15 more students and their families. We cannot wait to see our future leaders in action once they graduate from college,” said Saunders.

The Saunders Science Scholars was modeled after Morehead’s family science enrichment program, which encourages young people and their families to get more involved with science. The program is part of outreach initiatives that address gaps in STEM education across North Carolina, specifically in rural communities such as Gates County.

“The expansion of the Saunders Science Scholars program is a wonderful opportunity for the community of Gates County Schools. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s continued investment in our students is a gift that is immeasurable. We truly appreciate the expansion of the program as it will positively impact so many students,” stated Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools.


Taking Charge of Your Financial Health – Creating a Legacy of Wealth

“I had the privilege to come out to Gates County Community Partnership’s event to learn about Financial Planning. The speaker was awesome and people need to hear her,” emphasized community member Terri Boatwright. “What was taught in this program will help set you on your way to starting your own businesses, learning about financial wealth and planning for yourself.”

On Saturday, February 1, 2020, Gates County Community Partnership presented a free Financial Literacy Workshop to Gates County at its high school. The keynote speaker, Tiffany Eubanks, Managing Director for Bank of America, outlined the importance of creating a financial plan that is realistic and based on personal short-term and long-term goals.  She impressed upon the audience that it is never too late to begin creating wealth and provided manageable practices that everyone can put into place. “Everyone should set aside funds equal to at least three months of your normal living expenses, pay off credit card debt, set aside savings for large expenses, directly draft savings from your paycheck and be disciplined by making regular deposits into investment accounts,” stated Ms. Eubanks. A highlight was the discussion on college loan debt. She emphasized it is imperative to be smart when funding post-secondary education as the “best” university may not be the best for you. “It rarely makes sense to take on a large amount of debt for college when lower cost options are accessible.”

“This was a very successful meeting. People need to be aware of what is going on as far as money management. Everybody teaches you how to make money, but no one tells you how to manage it after you make it,” stated community member Vincent Riddick.

“We were excited about the opportunity to bring this important dialogue to the Gates County community and are pleased by the tremendous response from those who attended,” said Brian Rountree, Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We would like to thank Ms. Eubanks for bringing a powerful and inspiring message and our local institutions, First Citizens Bank and Southern Bank for participating. It means a great deal to us that they chose to take time out of their weekend to serve Gates County and assist our organization.”

This was just the first program in what Gates County Community Partnership hopes will be a value-added series for this community. Simply stated by attendee Daniel Bowser, “The workshop was very informative!”

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.


Gates County Community Partnership Attends "The Jupiter Ball" at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Gates County Community Partnership participated in "The 20th Annual Jupiter Ball', Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's fundraising gala. Proceeds from the event allow children to participate in exciting science education experiences that will develop their love of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has delivered significant resources to Gates County through the Saunders Science Scholars science enrichment program and other related endeavors designed to touch the entire community. Their fascinating work has compelled others, like Gates County Community Partnership. "We would not exist without Morehead. With the Saunders Science Scholars, they inspired us to organize and give back," emphasized Gates County Community Partnership Director Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr. "It was great to have the opportunity to take part in the program as a representative of the county. We are excited to continue our work in concert with Morehead and Gates County Schools."

Gates County was featured during the presentation of the 2019 Morehead Medal of Science as the recipients, Steve Butts and Addie Miller, were the guiding force and main funders of the extended outreach into Gates County. Participants included Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools, Mrs. Tammy Boone, Assistant Superintendent of Gates County Schools and Mrs. Barbara Austin and Justin Powell, participants in the Saunders Science Scholars. Mrs. Christie Bartoli, Ms. Claudette Smith, Bella Bartoli and Ace Austin also represented as Saunders Science Scholars.

The mission of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is to serve North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology and health. The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, as well as the Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms.


UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Community Partnership Donate Science Supplies to Gates County Schools

On November 20, 2019, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Community Partnership donated science supplies to four Gates County Schools. “This was something that we wanted to do for a while. We are thankful that Morehead allowed us the chance to participate,” emphasized Brian Rountree, Director of Gates County Community Partnership.

Representatives from Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Gates County Schools and Gates County Community Partnership visited Gatesville Elementary School, Central Middle School, T.S. Cooper Elementary School and Buckland Elementary School, dropping off science related articles at each. The union plans to donate even more materials prior to years end. “Unfortunately, we did not order enough storage bins,” said Sherley Jones, Jr., Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We will make up for it on our next visit!”

"It was great to see the response of the staff and children from the different schools. We were fervently welcomed,” stated Gates County Community Partnership Director Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr. “Interacting with our community in a positive manner is exciting. This part of the journey brings the most joy, as it feeds our spirit.”

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.


Gates and Pasquotank to Collaborate on ACT Prep through 4-H

According to the United States Census Bureau and the United States Department of Agriculture, educational attainment of people living in rural areas has increased but there is a large and growing gap in college and postgraduate educational attainment between rural and urban areas.  With a goal of closing this gap, Gates County and Pasquotank County are joining forces to offer ACT Preparatory training to high school sophomores and juniors.  The courses will start in January 2020 at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City.   “We are ecstatic that this opportunity is coming to the youth of Gates County.  Education is key and the importance of college as a means to reaching your potential is paramount,” stated Sherley Jones, Jr., Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We appreciate the chance to be involved in this effort to make college more accessible for our students.”

4-H, a network of youth organizations whose mission is engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development, is managing the program through “ASPIRE” (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education).  The program, which is offered by North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is designed to bridge deficits in rural high school students’ performance on the ACT College Entrance Examination in order to increase the number of students pursuing higher education.  Participants will receive 30 hours of ACT course instruction, a Princeton Review ACT Study Manual, a Princeton Review 1,460 practice question manual and four full length practice exams with score analysis.  Financial assistance will be offered to those deemed of need.

“Getting ready for the ACT can be hard.  We have a great relationship with Pasquotank County 4-H and their agent, Mason Lawrence, who is a Gates County native.  They are allowing us to participate in their program while we work to have one of our own next year,” said Keli Boone, Gates County 4-H Extension Agent.  “Jonathan Hayes, the principal of Gates County High School, was instrumental in emphasizing the need of this training and fully supports the initiative.  We are elated to have resources available to provide this to our students.”

ASPIRE delivers access to enrichment activities more easily available to urban and economically advantaged parts of the country, as ACT success is often a determining factor for acceptance and merit based financial aid at the nation’s colleges and universities.  Students must have a minimum 3.2 unweighted GPA to be considered for the program.  The application can be found at go.ncsu.edu/aspire and the deadline to apply is December 13, 2019.

For more information, see https://cals.ncsu.edu/students/my-path-to-cals/aspire/ or contact Keli Boone of Gates County 4-H at 252-357-1400.


GlaxoSmithKline’s Science in the Summer is Expanding to Gates County

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies with offices in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is expanding its “GSK Science in the Summer” to Gates County for 2020 and 2021 through a $1.345 million grant. Gates County will be the first location served by this program in the northeastern part of the state as it currently focuses on the contiguous counties of Alamance, Orange, Durham, Chatham, Harnett, Johnston, Wake, Franklin, Granville and Vance. “A goal of ours at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center was to influence the extension of the program to a rural area of North Carolina,” stated Crystal Harden, Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Morehead. “Gates County was the perfect choice due to the investment already made in the community through the Saunders Science Scholars and other activities. The response has been phenomenal!”

“GSK Science in the Summer”, is a free science education program for students entering second through eighth grades. It is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and offered in partnership with The Franklin Institute and UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. The program takes place in science centers, community centers and libraries across the country. Goals are to increase engagement in science, math and reading, enhance K-12 science education and community engagement through “Science on Your Street”, create a well-trained pool of teachers and assistants and extend support during the school year. "We are so grateful in Gates County to have a strong and amazing collaborative partnership with Morehead that touches the lives of our students and offers them educational and cultural experiences that will support their growth and development," stated Tammy Boone, Assistant Superintendent of Gates County Schools.

GlaxoSmithKline aspires to engage students early in STEM learning to foster the next generation of scientists and innovators. By offering opportunities to students, particularly those from underserved populations across the country not widely represented in the scientific community, they are able to reach populations who would not otherwise have access to high-quality STEM experiences.

“This is great for our community! As an organization, we support anything that we feel advances the fortunes of our youth,” emphasized Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr, President of Gates County Community Partnership. “Education is key to progress and we are thankful for this opportunity from GSK and Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.”


Science RISING! Gates County to Benefit from Grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been awarded funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to collaborate and partner over the next two years with Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) and Gates County Community Partnership, a non-profit organization based in Gates County.  The grant will cover two weeks of free middle school level summer science enrichment camps in Gates County over the next two summers.  The project, referred to as “Science RISING!”, will create an informal science education relationship demonstrating equity in access to science resources for northeastern North Carolina.  “Morehead’s objective for this collaboration is to address the STEM gap in resources and opportunities for elementary and middle school students in rural communities,” communicated Crystal Harden, Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Morehead.  “This initiative will create high-quality science education opportunities tailored to the community’s needs.  The goal is to make science education and STEM careers more relevant and reachable for children in rural northeastern North Carolina.”

The mission of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is to serve North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to engage the public for an improved understanding of science, technology and health.  Morehead has spent the past decade addressing inequities in STEM education.  This particular undertaking specifically leverages Morehead’s relationship with Elizabeth City State University.  Together, they will facilitate one-week, whole-day summer science enrichment camps in Gates County with ECSU leading a design of curricula that focuses on aerospace technology.  Subjects will include hot air balloons, flight simulation, robotics, drones and rocketry.  The campers will also take field trips to ECSU to visit the Aviation Science Program.  “This is another win for the Gates County Community!  We are providing our full support to this effort as it offers opportunities for our youth to learn and broaden their horizons,” mentioned Michael Gatling, Director of Gates County Community Partnership.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants primarily to support original research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics.  It believes that these fields, and the scholars and practitioners who work in them, are chief drivers of the nation's health and prosperity.  The Foundation also accepts that a reasoned, systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all.