Gear Up

These students from Coatimundi Middle School, now transitioning to high school, are part of the Gear Up program that prepares middle and high school students for college and careers. Juan Cueva, Bruno Sillas, Eduardo Torres, Alejandro Santini, Sandra Escobar, Joceline Estrada, Zamarah Romero, Jennifer Castro and Elizabeth Regan.

The Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office is sponsoring local youth who wish to participate in two virtual summer camps in July.

Organizers say the entrepreneurial-oriented programs are “designed to prepare students for their future, introduce them to new ideas and help them explore career paths.”

And because of the Superintendent’s Office’s sponsorship, they are free to attend, though participants will need to supply their own device and internet connection.

“During this difficult time, students can immerse themselves in these innovative programs that will stir their curiosity about becoming future business leaders,” said County Schools Superintendent Alfredo Velasquez.

The first program is a two-week online Innovation Launch Pad open to all incoming high school freshman at the county’s public and private high schools.

It will be held from 9-11 a.m., Monday-Friday, July 6 through July 17.

Participants will work in groups to identify a problem related to preparation for college and careers, and then develop an improvement project to address the issue.

The program culminates in an activity in which the groups pitch their plans to Superintendent’s Office staff, in the vein of the reality TV show “Shark Tank.”

The launch pad program is offered as part of C-CREO (College and Career Readiness Educational Opportunities) and Gear Up (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

To register, contact Maya Donnelly of the School Superintendent’s Office at or (520) 375-7947.

The second offering, the Emprende Amigo Youth Entrepreneurship Certification program, is a two-day online course for people ages 15 to 25.

It’s set to meet from 2-6 p.m. on July 9 and 10 and is offered by Startup Unidos, an organization aimed at helping entrepreneurs and innovators in Arizona and Sonora.

Register online at, or contact with questions.

In a news release, the organizers said both programs “will be facilitated by local experts and feature guest speakers like Marco Martinez O’Daly, a regional entrepreneur and podcast host.”

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