Gates County Community Partnership Donates Bikes to Local Youth

"Nothing provides like a bicycle to a young person. Our directors all have vivid memories of exciting rides throughout the county," exclaimed Sherley Jones, Jr. of Gates County Community Partnership!

With this in mind, the organization recently gave bicycles to two students at Central Middle School.

"We were fortunate to have the bikes donated specifically to gift our local youth. The least we could do was deliver them as soon as possible," stated Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President, Gates County Community Partnership. "We sincerely appreciate the support of our community in this endeavor, specifically Principal Kelly Eure and her staff at Central Middle School."

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.


Saunders Science Scholars Donates Science Supplies

Saunders Science Scholars (Morehead Planetarium and Science Center) in collaboration with Gates County Community Partnership recently donated science supplies to Gates County Schools. This collection is valued at approximately $14,000. The materials were initially intended for 2020 summer programming that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We are always excited to work with Gates County Schools to assist in STEM education,” emphasized Crystal Harden, Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. “We did something similar last year but this donation is at a different scale. As always, we appreciate the efforts of Gates County Community Partnership and Gates County Schools for facilitating this endeavor.”

All five county schools will receive materials from the donation. The gift includes instructional resources, curricula and professional development from Morehead, which guarantee the effective use of the items. A goal is to have teachers create science kits that can be used at home or in school. “It is fulfilling to be able to assist efforts to give back to our community in a mission related purpose. We genuinely appreciate the opportunity to work with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on this project. Our alliance is strong,” said Brian Rountree, Vice President of Gates County Community Partnership.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is entrenched in Gates County and committed to the educational uplift of its students. They also deliver extended outreach through mobile programs that include Science Tailgate, Mobile Planetarium, Morehead in Motion and NC Science Festival.

"Gates County Schools truly appreciates the generous contribution of science supplies donated to our schools by Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at UNC-Chapel Hill in conjunction with Gates County Community Partnership. As a public school system, we are grateful for the generosity of donors who provide supplemental materials for our students to enhance and enrich our instructional delivery. As educators, parents and community members we are well aware of the positive impact hands-on learning makes with our students. They are able to see and feel science come to life and the supplies provided by MPSC and GCCP create the opportunity for this experience to occur more frequently in the classroom,” stated Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Schools, Gates County. “With the generosity of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Community Partnership, we have the ability to provide students with an optimal science learning experience. We look forward to utilizing the supplies to make science come to life.”

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.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms. Nearly 160,000 people visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center annually, including 85,000 schoolchildren.


Gates County Community Partnership Awarded $25,000 Ribbon of Hope Grant

Gates County Community Partnership (GCCP), a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Gates County, was recently awarded $25,000 by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to fund “Opening GATES“, a college readiness initiative for Gates County students. “We are ecstatic for the support promoting higher education in Gates County,” bellowed Brian Rountree, Vice President of Gates County Community Partnership!

The goal of the college readiness initiative is to increase the number of students who obtain a postsecondary certification. Through the programming related to this grant, GCCP will coach college readiness with a focus on influencing and directing the students of Gates County towards a degree from an accredited university. “Opening GATES” will involve rising 11th and 12th graders from Gates County High School and will fully fund students for a one-week summer enrichment program combining ACT Preparatory Training, youth development and college tours. “Gates County Community Partnership truly lives up to its name by providing quality, innovative programs for the students of Gates County Schools. The Ribbon of Hope grant is an investment in the students and their future goals and aspirations,” stated Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools.

Gates County Community Partnership looks forward to “Opening GATES” and they will engage the community to deliver the highest level of content. “This project directly aligns with our current work and fulfils a local need. There is not a structured program pertaining to college readiness in Gates County; no ACT Prep or college tours,” stated Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President of Gates County Community Partnership. “Our students deserve the same advantages as others. We are dedicated to increasing the number of college graduates from Gates County.”

The mission of Gates County Community Partnership (www.gatescountycp.org) is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.

About the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation is an independent self-funding 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supporting activities that help meet the educational and health needs of today's society and future generations. Since its creation in 1986, the foundation has granted $75.18 million to support North Carolina projects and programs that emphasize the understanding and application of science, health and education at all academic and professional levels. Visit us at NCGSKFoundation.org.


Saunders Science Scholars Adds New Cohort

Merchants Millpond State Park – On October 24, 2020, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Schools welcomed the 15 seventh graders who were selected for Cohort 2 of the Saunders Science Scholars program. They are Hunter Ambrose, London Barber, Timberlyn Chappell, Dusty Gallop, Michael Parks, Jayla Porter, J'Yanah Powell, Logan Roman, Benjamin Ross, Semiyah Saunders, Deshaun Sherman, Shala'Jah Stallings, Courtney Unger, Noah Wilkins and Ayden Wright. The scholars will participate in various activities and events that traverse science. Examples include science meetings, summer camps, field trips, experiments and other exploratory learning activities.

“The Saunders Science Scholars event was an exciting day of hands-on activities for students and their parents to enjoy the magic of science. Our partnership with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Community Partnership provides students and families with STEM based events, materials and devices that stimulate their interest in careers based in science. I am very appreciative of these two organizations who sponsor the Saunders Science Scholars program which is so beneficial to our students and community,” said Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent, Gates County Schools.

The Saunders Science Scholars program was named after Benjamin Saunders, Sr., a beloved former science teacher and principal at T.S. Cooper Elementary School in Sunbury. It provides numerous resources and events to the Gates County Schools community that explore science. The initiative was modeled after Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s family science enrichment program.

"We are proud that the Saunders Science Scholars now intimately serves a core group of 29 students from Gates County Schools," exclaimed Crystal Harden, Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. "We welcome our new cohort! Their future is bright and we will use science as the foundation of their development."

"Excitement for the new group of scholars is high. The experience will be invaluable as we will encourage them towards unfathomable destinies," said Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President, Gates County Community Partnership. "To assist, our organization donated Chromebooks to each member of the new cohort that will be used to optimize their educational journey."

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms. Nearly 160,000 people visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center annually, including 85,000 schoolchildren.


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.