Wichita State University’s Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness
for Undergraduate Programs) is a college access program that is federally funded through
the U.S. Department of Education designed to help students in foster care prepare
for post-secondary education.
KKGU offers a variety of free services to participants that help them gear up for
a postsecondary education. Services include college exploration and visits, academic
skill building, career exploration, mentoring, life skill building, ACT / SAT workshops,
financial literacy, financial aid workshops, program orientation, scholarship opportunities,
summer programs, educational field trips, recognition ceremonies for students and
teachers, college portfolio preparation and quarterly newsletters.
iGRAD, a Keys for Networking educational program, helps Kansas youth 14 and older
track placement history and secure records. Using an online database to ease communication
between schools and providers, iGRAD provides interventions for risk factors that
create barriers to educational success. iGRAD is funded by Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP.
Keys for Networking, who manages the online database, also provides services to children
and adolescents who have behavioral, education, mental health, physical health and
substance abuse problems.
Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP is a U.S. Department of Education funded program with Wichita
State University as the administrator of this program. Children in foster care are given top priority for services.
In order to be eligible for Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP, students must: Be in foster care and attending a middle or high school in the region, OR be currently in state custody and attending a middle or high school in the region.
KKGU is a statewide program that branches out into six regions that provide educational
resources to help middle and high school students succeed. We work to increase the
number of students in foster care who graduate from high school fully prepared for
enrollment in postsecondary education.
These components augment instruction provided by schools and foster care facilities.
Activities include: mentoring, counseling, workshops and visits to postsecondary institutions
and community businesses. These visits reinforce our student's educational pursuits.
Student's progress in instruction, mentoring, and workshops is assessed monthly.
Summer activities allow students to keep up with classmates, advance skills, build
confidence and progress toward their goals. Postsecondary prep, mentorships, reading,
math, English, career and computer instruction are offered. Students are encouraged
to apply for TRiO, Health Careers Opportunity and other programs that support their
Saturday schedules include college and career field trips. Staff and volunteers offer
innovative instruction to excite students about education. Special banquets and sessions
with guest presenters are held for academic and social enrichment, as well as to recognize
individual student and collective achievements.
Planning packets with instructions on college admissions and financial aid are designed
for middle and high school students. Parents and students receive technical assistance—one-on-one
and in groups—for test prep, college application completion, developing essays and
strategies for handling college interviews.
Through mentoring, students are able to interact with individuals who support and
encourage their educational, career and personal goals. Project and partner agencies
provide training to mentors, who include university students and community volunteers.
Cultural enrichment activities enhance student social and emotional growth. These
activities integrate social and cultural events, allowing students a sense of pride
in their cultural backgrounds and an understanding for other populations.