The Wichita Public Schools and Wichita State University have partnered to expand the Better Academics and Social Excellence (BAASE) program to students at the district’s eight comprehensive high schools, creating a stronger system of support for males of color who want to pursue post-secondary education.

A kick-off event for the program was held at WSU on March 3.

The BAASE program, started in 2018, aims to help close the achievement gap and increase the graduation rate by focusing on seventh and eighth grade male middle school students who have achieved a 3.2 or high GPA, showed social excellence with their behavior and had good school attendance.

The new partnership with WSU will allow students who participated in the program in middle school to continue in the program while in high school. This year, approximately 150 BAASE of the original BAASE students are now sophomores. There are approximately 470 middle school BAASE participants.

“Our goal is to bring these students together to create a positive peer group where it’s cool to be smart,” said William Polite, director of equity, diversity and accountability for Wichita Public Schools. “We want to keep them inspired and motivated and to prepare them for college.”

In addition to regular programming offered by Wichita Public Schools, high school BAASE participants will become affiliate members of the WSU community.

At the kick off, each of the students received their WSU affiliate ID. With this ID, they have access to WSU campus resources and amenities including university libraries, Heskett Center, the Shocker Store and Shocker Sports Grill and Lanes.

Additionally, BAASE members will receive mentorship from college students who are in a similar program for college men at WSU, hosted by WSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. They will also have opportunities to participate in university-sponsored youth camps for free or discounted rates and engage in several academic and career-building experiences.

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