As of May 2018, DonCARES of Philadelphia announced their newest partnership with GEAR UP at Kensington High School in North Philadelphia.
DonCARES of Philadelphia a mentoring start-up started by Temple University Senior Education Major Donovan Forrest. DonCARES provides free mentoring and tutoring services to students at the U School in North Philadelphia.
GEAR UP is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs is the full name for the acronym. GEAR UP provides critical and early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, and academic preparation to improve college access to students from low-income, minority, and first-generation students and their families.
Started during the 2016-2017 school year, DonCARES of Philadelphia faced many difficulties but Forrest and his founding team persisted. "If you would like to imagine, starting a mentoring organization is not an easy feat. You not only need to lay the foundation but you need to make sure all of your I's are dotted and your T's are crossed while you're doing it." Forrest says.
It was when DonCARES of Philadelphia Treasurer Elias Nejame mentioned that the group of college students could partner with the high school where he was a teacher that programming began to show signs of promise. The high school was Neil Geyette's relatively new high school The U School at 7th and Norris Streets. This was in September 2016.
However, there weren't officially boots on the ground until January 2017 when DonCARES of Philadelphia provided the U School with six tutors who were college students of color. "We were consistent and that's when our name began to circle around the North Philadelphia community," Forrest says proudly.
In regards to their latest partnership with GEAR UP, the words Forrest believes strongly in is: "Social Entrepreneurship." "You have to network, you have to believe whatever you are doing matters," Forrest remarks.
DonCARES teamed up with NCNW Temple Section and S.M.O.O.T.H Inc. for resume workshops at the U School in March and April 2018. When a video of Forrest demonstrating a proper interview got a record-breaking nearly 100 likes on Instagram and Linkedin, Briayanna Johnson who was then a GEAR UP Coach reached out to Forrest to conduct a workshop at Kensington High School.
Later that month, Briayanna introduced Forrest to Ana Ramirez who was the College and Career Coordinator at Kensington after he mentioned a possible partnership between the two organizations. After their second resume workshop at Kensington, Forrest, Johnson, and Ramirez held a meeting where the organizations discussed programming for the 2018-2019 school year.
DonCARES will partner with GEAR UP and work with 9th and 10th graders at Kensington High School in the Fall. Getting them prepared for college and their careers are something both organization's members are passionate about. "When we equip them with the tools to be successful we have something to be happy about. And we are excited to already to have started doing that." Forrest says.