Foster kids may lack encouragement and resources to achieve a college degree and that’s why a program called “Gear Up” assists them with intervention activities, financial assistance, and tools for college success.
Beginning in 7th grade through 12th grade, students in foster care can enroll in Gear Up and receive mentoring, cultural programs, summer enrichment activities, encouragement and campus visits.
“So many foster kids fall between the cracks,” said Regina Rose, regional coordinator for Kansas Kids Gear Up for the western half of the state. Gear Up “encourages kids to get to school and encourages them to get a four year degree. A lot of them don’t believe they can do it.”
She said these kids don’t have family support, funds or may not trust a lot of people because they’ve been mislead or lied to. They are at higher risk because of the family situation.
Gear Up is a grant driven program administered through the Department of Education with Wichita State University that, Rose said, has been around for quite a few years. Although the program is primarily targeted towards foster kids, some low-income kids may qualify.
Volunteers work with the students to teach them that they can receive a high school diploma, to take care of themselves, and to set goals to become contributing members of the community. They help students with ACT preparation, assistance with college applications, and strategies for handling college interviews.
Social-emotional growth is also important, and students participate in enrichment activities promoting that growth.
Students enrolled in the program can receive up to $3,000 per semester for college after Pell grants and scholarships for eight semesters of college for a bachelor’s degree on an as-needed basis.
“Foster kids really need encouragement and nurturing,” said Rose. “We have quite a few kids that are going to college that wouldn’t have gone before.”
Rose’s territory is the western half of the state. There are 120 kids enrolled out of the 300 in foster care in this region. For those interested in enrolling, call 620-792-7995 or enroll at www.kkgu.org.
Source: Great Bend Tribune