Wichita State began developing the Shocker Neighborhood coalition to engage and empower the neighborhood communities surrounding campus. Since then, the commitment has expanded to include 10 neighborhoods and now engages with the community to provide resources, scholarships, academic support programs, mentoring and additional enrichment programs for neighborhood students.
The Shocker Neighborhood geographic area is bound by I-35 on the west; Oliver Street on east; Kansas Highway-96 on the north; and Central Avenue on the south.
Wichita State students and staff have been vital in the implementation of the Shocker Neighborhood Commitment, a promise from Wichita State to empower neighborhood residents and organizations to partner together to provide mutual growth and prosperity. Wichita State’s Strategic Engagement and Planning (SEP), Public Policy and Management Center and Student Government Association have all been essential drivers of the Shocker Neighborhood commitment.
Vice president for SEP, Kaye Monk-Morgan, said the coalition began with President John Bardo, who led Wichita State from 2012 to 2019, and is a long-term commitment for the university. Monk-Morgan and Naquela Pack, director of engagement for SEP, are at the forefront, guiding the future of the Shocker Neighborhood commitment.
“We want students who live in Shocker Neighborhood to matriculate to Wichita State in higher numbers, and we want to be a school of choice for them, not the school up the street,” Monk-Morgan said. “We’re working really hard on creating opportunities for that.”
Monk-Morgan said that in fall 2021, the Shocker Neighborhood commitment will provide neighborhood students who graduate with the opportunity to access the Shocker Promise scholarship, which is a need-based, four-year scholarship. Students who participate in the commitment will also have access to academic support programs, mentoring and intense work on career readiness.
“We’re really just trying to be intentional about how we’re providing service and who we partner with,” Monk-Morgan said.
She said that in the future, there will also be additional initiatives that will bring together resources and amenities for the campus community, Innovation Campus partners and the communities that surround Wichita State.
Vice president for Strategic Engagement & Planning
Wichita State is also partnering with United Way for the Shocker Neighborhood commitment.
“We have agreed that we will have a prolonged campaign with United Way that will include faculty, staff and students,” Monk-Morgan said. “The resources that Wichita State provides to United Way will go directly to those entities that are within Shocker Neighborhood boundaries.”
“The most rewarding part of this work is having the opportunity to do work that expressly supports the university mission to be an economic, education and cultural driver and to do that close to home in a space where our students and community members live — some of which have felt forgotten,” Monk-Morgan said. “To be able to elevate the work that is happening there and the success happening in those neighborhoods makes this work meaningful.”
Director of the Public Policy and Management Center (PPMC) Misty Bruckner was vital in getting the Shocker Neighborhood coalition launched. In 2015, the PPMC took the lead on writing a grant to the Kansas Health Foundation for community engagement. In the beginning, the intention of the coalition was to be community-driven and that it would move beyond the Fairmount Neighborhood to engage with what the role of the university could be moving forward.
“Community development work is hard work, and it requires everyone to be committed to the big picture,” Bruckner said. “The relationships and trust between Wichita State and the community will continue to build and there will be more opportunities for the community to get involved with the university.”
Hannah Harpel, director of Community Engagement for the Student Government Association (SGA), acts as a liaison between Wichita State students and the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.
“The most rewarding part of this work is being a voice for the students and for the community,” Harpel said. “Students and the community alike are going to be impacted by this initiative, so it’s crucial that everyone has a way to share their opinions and what they want to see moving forward.”
Harpel said that as the Shocker Neighborhood commitment grows and expands, SGA will be working with SEP on building community events and volunteer opportunities for Wichita State students to engage with Shocker Neighborhood.