Yvonne Lovell of Louisville was selected from a national pool as the 2013 Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Professional of the Year. GEAR UP is a federally funded college access and readiness program that serves more than 700,000 low-income students.
“Yvonne has worked tirelessly to identify GEAR UP as the natural bridge between K-12 and postsecondary education reform efforts across the Commonwealth,” said Bob King, Council on Postsecondary Education president. “Yvonne’s voice was an invaluable resource in defining Kentucky’s Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education. The result is a long-range plan that features GEAR UP as a central and sustained strategy to increase the college readiness and success of low-income Kentucky students.”
Since 2000, Lovell has served as executive director of GEAR UP Kentucky 3.0, the statewide GEAR UP project for Kentucky now in its third round of funding. The current program works with 50 middle and high schools in 21 counties to help more than 14,000 Kentucky students and their families know how to prepare, apply and pay for college. The program is administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
“Because Yvonne is always exploring the promise and practices of the GEAR UP program both in Kentucky and across the country, her legacy and impact are still being defined, but her role as a prominent leader among GEAR UP professionals is unquestionable,” said Nathan Monell, president and CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. “She is fearless and unwavering in the certainty that every student is capable and deserving of the opportunities that college success affords.”
According to a recently released Council report, the GEAR UP Kentucky II program (2005-2011) resulted in a 22 percentage point increase in the college-going rate of participating schools. Before participating, the college-going rate in GEAR UP Kentucky II high schools was 10 percent below the statewide rate; in 2011, this gap was closed.
The program also far exceeded its goal to increase students’ awareness of financial aid, with 85 percent of students reporting that they understood the various options available to help pay for college.
The award is presented annually to an individual employed by one of the 128 GEAR UP programs funded nationwide. Nominees must have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to ensuring college access and success is available to all students. The awardee is selected by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships in recognition of demonstrating excellence with outstanding results.
Prior to joining the Council staff in 2000, Lovell was the executive assistant to the deputy commissioner for higher education at the New York State Education Department in Albany, N.Y. Her professional experiences span the gamut of higher education as a financial aid director, placement services and summer program director.
Lovell earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and completed her graduate education in counseling and higher education administration at the University at Albany.