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TRIO | GEAR UP | CAMP | STEP UP — CEOP, building a legacy of learners and leaders through a commitment to educational equity. ceop.ku.edu | @CEOPmedia

In spring 2020, the sudden school closures triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic caught students, families, and teachers off guard. The sudden school closures also created challenges for college access and support programs like the ones housed in The University of Kansas Center for Educational Opportunity Programs. One of the Center’s largest programs is the GEAR UP program that serves 3,400 students in a large, urban school district in Kansas City, Kan. The 2019–2020 school year was the third year of the seven-year GEAR UP grant and the cohort of students was in the eighth and ninth grades.

An infographic of KCKPS demographics
An infographic of KCKPS demographics

March 12, 2020…


This interview was conducted in early March 2020 before the closure of Kansas schools due to COVID-19. As a result, the Spring 2020 Family Language Academies that are highlighted in this story are postponed until in-person school resumes.

As the Director of ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Migrant Services at Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS), Kristen Scott focuses on addressing the needs of students and families who are new to not just the school district, but the country. In addition to serving students and families through their Newcomer Program, she also attends to any other student and their family who might be learning English. As she described it, her role is to “champion the needs of diverse learners.” …


This interview was conducted in early March 2020 before the closure of Kansas schools due to COVID-19. As a result, the Spring 2020 Family Language Academies that are highlighted in this story are postponed until in-person school resumes.

Supporting Technology, Educators, and Parents for Upward Progress (STEP UP) is a federal grant program that is a partnership between the University of Kansas Center for Educational Opportunity Programs and the Kansas City, Kansas English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)/Migrant Services Department. The program promotes ESOL learning among different stakeholders across the district.

Devon Tschumakow works as an ESOL Instructional Coach for pre-kindergarten through 5th grade in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS). Before serving as an ESOL Instructional Coach, she worked as an instructor in the KCKPS Intensive Language Centers for elementary schools with students who have…


At the University of Kansas, TRIO and GEAR UP programs are housed in one center, the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP). CEOP’s full-time communications coordinator, Laura Kingston, works to improve the visibility and impact of CEOP’s programs by leveraging social media, strategic storytelling, and visual communications.

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, CEOP programs moved their service delivery efforts to online platforms. As a result, strong communication through social media is becoming more relied upon. …


Josh Bernardino, a junior at Topeka High School, envisions himself as a college graduate with a degree in both business management and computer science, perhaps one day owning his own business. Having moved to the United States when he was seven years old, Josh has grown from participating in a middle school robotics program to declaring Advanced Placement (AP) Physics as his favorite class in high school. To help Josh expand his educational interests, he, fortunately, has access to a program specifically designed to help him explore college and career options within the science and technology field.


Byron Lewis, IV has come full circle from where he began his academic journey — Topeka Public Schools (TPS). As a first-year teacher, within the TPS District, Byron has a unique opportunity to serve the community from which he was raised. When he landed his first teaching job in his home district, he said he was overwhelmed with excitement and pride. “I’ve always had a strong sense of community and desire to give back.” Byron’s academic journey is a story of commitment, discipline, and strong mentorship.

Prior to starting his first year of high school, Byron interviewed for a spot…


Jonathan Figueroa is a junior at Topeka High School and a self-described “numbers guy”. He joined The University of Kansas TRIO Math and Science Center (MSC) when he was a freshman after his cousin recommended it to him.

The KU Math and Science Center is a TRIO Upward Bound program that helps students who are first-generation or from low-income families strengthen their math and science skills. …


The completion of a doctoral degree requires persistence and the ability to balance multiple responsibilities; for students who are also parents, the skill of balancing responsibilities becomes crucial. A large part of this balancing act is juggling “another life — another little person that comes with her own personality and her own needs,” explained Amilee Turner, a single mom and fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas (KU).


Courtney Hultgren is the assistant director at the Hilltop Child Development Center at the University of Kansas (KU). Having served as a teacher and operations manager at Hilltop before becoming assistant director, Courtney understands that childcare, which can cost as much per month as rent or a mortgage, is a central concern for many college students who are also parents.

For Courtney, many of her responsibilities at Hilltop are enrollment-centric: she gives tours to student-parents seeking childcare, helps student-parents fill out applications, and discusses financial options based on student-parents’ financial qualifications. …


The road to earning a bachelor’s degree is often paved with commitment, tenacity, and a degree of maturity. For college students who are also parents, these qualities are critical elements of postsecondary success. The University of Kansas (KU) is home to multiple supports for student-parents, but finding the right combination of supports can be challenging. Of these critical supports, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program helps student-parents at KU secure affordable quality childcare.

In 2018, KU’s Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP), in partnership with Hilltop Child Development Center, was awarded CCAMPIS, a US Department of…

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