• Strategic Team Planning: Charting a Course for Success

    Last month, I got great satisfaction in meeting face-to-face with my team for our annual evaluation team strategic planning. Strategic planning meetings are crucial for team success and provide an opportunity for reflection. They are also very valuable for the development of a cohesive and comprehensive plan that is co-developed […]

  • Second Year College Persistence

    Many colleges face challenges with student persistence, retention, and completion. Thus, a relevant question is – What can colleges do to improve student outcomes? On July 26, 2023, the USDOE released the notice for FY 2023 for the Applications for New Awards for the Postsecondary Student Success Grant Program (PSSG). […]

  • Sharing Knowledge and Inspiring Change

    Have you ever wondered why evaluation findings sometimes do not get used in making programmatic decisions? Yes, we all have, and we can produce several reasons. This was the focus of our Data Into Practice presentation at the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP). The NCCEP conference is […]

  • Listen Up! Amplifying Student Voices

    Several months ago in a blog post, I wrote about traveling to collect qualitative data from stakeholders. Last month, the effort continued as we gathered valuable qualitative data from students. This time, our data collection effort was different because Xcalibur and the grant leadership agreed to conduct the focus groups […]

  • Celebrating High School Graduation and Embracing New Horizons

    Graduation season is the time when high schools and institutions of higher education celebrate the completion of academic programs and the transition of students to the next phase of their lives. Commencement speeches inspire and advise graduates on future endeavors ranging from entering the workforce, going to trade school, or […]

  • Sharpening The Saw Through Professional Development

    Many years ago, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. In the book, Covey mentioned “sharpen the saw”, as the 7th habit. Sharpening the saw involves preserving and improving your greatest asset – You. There are many ways we should “sharpen the saw.” In […]

  • Leaving a Legacy for Grant Work

    Grant work can be exceptionally rewarding because it presents an opportunity to make an impact on communities. In the world of GEAR UP, grants are making an impact on students and their families, by supporting students to graduate high school and prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.  Funding […]

  • Xcalibur Evaluation Retreats

    As part of Xcalibur’s participatory evaluation approach, Xcalibur staff conduct biannual evaluation retreats with our evaluation clients. The goal is to bring together grant team members to review their grant’s vision, reflect on their work, assess progress, and plan for future work. Retreats eliminate the everyday interruptions of the usual […]

  • Over the Mountains and Through the Snow: Hearing Experiences from Different Stakeholders.

    The past few months have been exciting! Xcalibur staff have been traveling and engaging in discussions with high school students, college students, parents, educators, and GEAR UP staff about their GEAR UP experiences. In addition to collecting data for the Annual Performance Report (APR), many GEAR UP grants have accompanying […]