UTPA GEAR UP participant to attend national youth summit
Contact: Amanda Perez, Intern 381-2741
Posted: 05/26/2009
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Angel Castillo, a University of Texas-Pan American GEAR UP participant, will represent the Rio Grande Valley at the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) Youth Summit in San Francisco, Calif. in July.

Angel Castillo
"I am extremely honored and humbled to be representing the UTPA GEAR UP grant and the Rio Grande Valley in this capacity," Castillo, an Edinburg High School sophomore, said.

Castillo is one of only 30 students selected nationally to be a first-time attendee at the summit. With his four years of active participation in The University of Texas-Pan American GEAR UP program and EHS being a recipient of the UTPA GEAR UP grant, he has been given this opportunity and expenses will be covered.

"I have learned a great deal about leadership, service and self advocacy in this program," Castillo said. "It has also allowed me to have experiences with math, science and technology that have directly impacted my ability to learn and be passionate about my future," he said.

All participants in this summit are from schools served by GEAR UP, a federal program designed to increase the number of low income youth who are prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education.

In 2005, UTPA became a recipient of the second largest GEAR UP grant in the nation. This grant covers 12 school districts, serving more than 9,400 students in 21 high schools in the Rio Grande Valley. The grant partners with Texas Instruments, Vernier, Sure Score and Agile Mind to provide additional curriculum resources for all campuses.

"The grant provides much needed resources in this area to provide services to students in college preparation," Martha Cantu, UTPA GEAR UP project director said.

In fact, Castillo will also be a residential concurrent enrollment student sponsored by GEAR UP at UTPA.

The major components of the grant are academic preparation, academic preparation support services, family and community outreach, professional development and a higher educational collaborative.

Castillo was nominated by UTPA GEAR UP and EHS. He was selected through a competitive application process based on his academic achievement, leadership experience, essay and letters of recommendation.

"Angel was nominated for this opportunity because of his leadership skills and outstanding academic record," Cantu said.

Over the course of the summit Castillo will work with other students to create a report focused on what educators should consider when designing strategies and programs aimed at improving student achievement. It will include the issues that students believe to be important for improving student success and strengthening the education system.

"It will be an amazing experience to network and meet other students from all over the country and to work together to address and provide strong solutions," Castillo said.

The summit will conclude with the student's presentation of the report to more than 2,000 attendees of the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.

For more information about NCCEP, GEAR UP and the Youth Leadership Summit, visit For more information about the UTPA GEAR UP grant, contact Cantu at 956/295-7501.