As part of our celebration of Black History Month, take a look back when Roderick Figgs, assistant director of GEAR UP at Cal State San Bernardino, was named the 2019 Professional of the Year by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. This article was originally published on June 18, 2019. Also visit the CSUSB Black History Month website to participate in our events all month long.


Roderick Figgs, assistant director of GEAR UP at Cal State San Bernardino, has been named the 2019 Professional of the Year by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP). Described by most as “a person who is ‘all in’ all the time,” Figgs was recognized for his profound dedication and presence in his community, marked by his commitment to the special needs community, the environment, and in schools. Figgs is responsible for providing unprecedented access to standardized testing opportunities for students in the area, bringing ACT testing sites to the community and implementing the SAT Prep and SAT School Day in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. NCCEP was founded in 1999 and works diligently to strengthen communities’ capacities to ensure that underserved students have the opportunities, skills, and knowledge to successfully pursue the education and training that will enable them to achieve their career and life goals. NCCEP was created alongside the creation of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative, enacted by Congress.  GEAR UP remains as one of the largest and most effective programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in communities nationwide. As a highly competitive grant program, GEAR UP empowers local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to create a future where all students are empowered and equipped with the skills, education, and training needed to succeed. This year, both NCCEP and GEAR UP celebrate their 20th anniversary. Since 1999, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded 695 GEAR UP grants and $6 billion in federal funding to educational agencies and institutions across the country. NCCEP will hold its annual conference July 14-17 in San Francisco. Visit the NCCEP website and the CSUSB GEAR UP website to learn more about each.