Students are used to being at the center of the classroom, but for one night, parents will be learning the lessons.
Tonight, Wichita State’s ‘GEAR UP” program is hosting a financial literacy course for parents of Truesdell Middle School students.
GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It’s a college access program that is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Education. GEAR UP is designed to help students prepare for post-secondary education. Thursday’s workshop is aimed at getting parents financially fit.
“The better they are prepared to manage their money now, the better prepared they will be to go to college,” said Vic Chavez, executive director of the South Wichita GEAR UP program. “They'll be better prepared to pay for college and can start working on that right now.”
According to the U.S. Census, 69 percent of households held some form of debt in 2011. The number has improved since 2000, when 74 percent of U.S. households had debt. Still, it’s a problem plaguing some families, Chavez said.
Some of the frequent problems he hears from Wichita school families includes:
- Overusing credit cards
- Having too many credit cards
- Using a pay-day loan business and struggling to pay debt
- Borrowing from high-interest lenders for school
The Bank of the West and other staff will be on site for the program, which is just for Truesdell parents. The program works with Truesdell, eight other middle schools and four high schools in the district.
GEAR UP focuses on these schools due to a higher concentration disadvantaged youth: Those coming from low-income families, first generation students and students with disabilities.
“It's a wonderful experience,” Chavez said. “It's rewarding, always rewarding to see people learn and to figure something out on their own.”
ABOUT GEAR UP
The gear up program started in Wichita last year. Now, the program serves about 1,800 students in Wichita. It will mentor students from middle school until graduation. Along the way, will be prepared academically, socially and financially to enter and complete college.
In Jan. 2015, Wichita State University announced that it was 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 – that’s more than $10 million in grants.
“We want to take that worry away and really give them a path that they can start to plan and make ends meet,” said Truesdell College Access Advisor Lynette Woodard. “We know that if they take that path to college, their life could possibly be that much better. That's really what it's all about.
To build up the students, talk about education, give them a path for success and we all should have that opportunity.”