In the News

Wichita State University was recently awarded two new GEAR UP grant awards through the Department of Education to fund programs benefitting select USD 259 middle and high schools. Both grants provide $740,000 a year for seven years.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal college access and retention program. There are three GEAR UP programs at Wichita State, each designed to prepare students academically, socially and financially to enter and complete college.

The new funding will support two of the GEAR UP programs at WSU in partnership with Wichita Public Schools: North Wichita GEAR UP, led by Riccardo Harris, executive director, and South Wichita GEAR UP, led by Vic Chavez, executive director.

Chavez says both GEAR UP programs will provide opportunity and college access services to four USD 259 high schools – North, West, South and Southeast – and nine associated middle schools.

“Riccardo Harris and I are eager to give back some of what we’ve been given in service of the students, parents and staff of our target schools,” he said.

Both GEAR UP programs employ an intensive, hands-on effort to transform youth from disadvantaged backgrounds – low-income households, first-generation students and students with disabilities – into college success stories. They start with kids in middle school, following 7th graders through high school and their first year of college. The goal is to change the expectations of students and their parents, teaching personal resilience and changing the cultures of their schools to gear them up for college.

GEAR UP staff work with teachers and administrators as well as parents and students, offering Saturday workshops, summer programs, college preparation activities, campus visits, cultural enrichment activities, evening workshops for parents, professional development opportunities for school personnel and other activities.

For more information about South Wichita GEAR UP, contact Chavez at 316- 973-7934 or For information about North Wichita GEAR UP, contact Harris at 316-973-7936 or

Source: Wichita State News