WSU partnership with USD 259 creates new opportunities for young men of color


In support of their shared goals, Wichita State University and Wichita Public Schools (WPS) have expanded a partnership to create a stronger system of support for African American and Hispanic students who want to pursue post-secondary education.

The partnership started in 2018 between Wichita State and the WPS program Better Academics and Social Excellence (BAASE). BAASE was created by William Polite, executive director of Diversity and Equity for Wichita Public Schools, and kicked off with nearly 500, 7th and 8th grade scholars with a 3.25 GPA or better, no office referrals and strong attendance. The program aims to create a positive peer group of males of color and encourage scholastic achievement.

Now an expansion to that partnership will focus on those BAASE members as they continue into high school.

In addition to their regular programming offered by district personnel, BAASE participants will become affiliate members of the Wichita State University community.

Each member will receive a membership card that provides access to campus resources and amenities including University Libraries, Heskett Center, the Shocker Store and Shocker Sports Grill and Lanes.

It’s about preparing our boys for life in a world where they’re prepared to achieve their dreams.
William Polite

Additionally, BAASE members will receive mentorship from college students who are in a similar program for college men at WSU, hosted by WSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. They will also have opportunities to participate in university-sponsored youth camps for free or discounted rates and engage in several academic and career-building experiences.

“Working with the Wichita Public Schools’ BAASE program just makes sense,” says Kaye Monk-Morgan, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. “As an educational and economic driver for the state of Kansas, we realize that these young men are the backbone of the Kansas economy. We want to support their formal education and ensure that they are college or career ready, and if they choose to attend Wichita State University or WSU Tech, all the better. We want to double-down on the investment made by parents, our partners in USD 259 and the community to ensure they have paths forward and support for their educational and vocational plans.”

This program was built to support young men and keep them on the right path, Polite says.

“We don’t want them to get lost along the way,” he says. “Our partnership allows us to guide BAASE members towards the next step … they can more clearly see the connection between honors and advance placement courses and college attendance. My hope is that they will also be able to plan for careers after college. This partnership is about extending our support beyond our high schools. It’s about preparing our boys for life in a world where they’re prepared to achieve their dreams.”

Wichita State Provost Rick Muma says as an urban-serving, research university, it’s WSU’s job to engage the community and use its resources to improve the lives of Kansans.

“I’m excited that this new partnership brings two educational institutions together to do just that,” he says. “We hope every BAASE member grows pride in their hometown university through this experience and their affiliation with Shocker Nation.”

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