NYGEAR-UP (NY Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) aims to improve academic performance to ensure high school graduation, support college-readiness, and promote career exploration.

The Gear-Up partnership between Farmingdale State College and the Mount Vernon City School District completed the final year of a six-year program that followed an entire group of students from 7th through 12th grade. Situated in Westchester County, one of the first areas hit by COVID-19, the Mount Vernon City School District was amongst the first to close schools. Thanks to modern technology, the GEAR-UP on-site coordinator Sabina Kelley was able to continue outreach to students via SignalVine (a texting app), online workshops, and academic counseling sessions. Texting has been vital in contacting students and maintaining the supportive relationship.

As the graduating class of 2020, students were to receive academic counseling and assistance with post-graduate planning during their senior year. However, accomplishing all of this while trying to finish high school remotely was a significant challenge that was exacerbated by limited resources. Additionally, students were disappointed they did not have a graduation ceremony or other planned celebrations. In recognition of the accomplishments, pictures were collected for a digital yearbook and an online graduation ceremony was planned. Our students are resilient and will persevere despite the odds.