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Disadvantaged Students Sign on for College - KOAM TV 7

Disadvantaged Students Sign on for College

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

John Brooks is a varsity athlete. 

"I do golf," Brooks said. "Been on the varsity all my four years."

Brooks, signing his letter of intent for South Plains College, got to this point with some team work and coaching. But it doesn't have anything to do with athletics. It's Kansas Kids @ Gear Up.

"Not only do we provide the financing, we provide the manpower. And the words of encouragement, the tutoring, the mentoring," adviser for Gear Up Jim Fryer said. 

The federally-funded program targets students as early as sixth grade; meeting with the students weekly to lead them through the FAFSA process, select a college, then provide up to $3,000 per semester for 8 semesters. 

Gear Up even takes students on college campus visits. 

The program serves foster children, first-generation students, and others like Brooks, in financial need.

"Me and my mom are the only ones who live together," Brooks said. "She's always struggling to provide for me and her, herself. So Gear Up's just a great way to help me get to college and fulfill my dream."

while a state-wide program, Gear Up says it's currently working in 11 counties through Southeast Kansas. Serving 35 school districts and 370 students.

"Young people need to have hope," Fryer said. "And if they have hope and they know someone's going to be beside them to help them out and give them the tools to be able to reach their goals, that's when we know we've accomplished our mission."

"It's just recognizing that you're going to the next level and proceeding your education and getting to that next level and doing what you want to do," Brooks said.

"Gear Up" seeks out foster students throughout the state. For other students there's an application process. 

All 9 of the students signing a letter of intent Tuesday have been accepted to post-secondary education. 

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