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Kansas parents credit expanded state program to help students' 'learning recovery'

KEEP Program.jpg
Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-26 11:10:56-04

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Parents in Kansas say expanding eligibility for for the Kansas Education Enrichment Program will help more students afford educational goods and services to help keep up.

The Kansas Office of Recovery recently announced expanded eligibility for KEEP.

The state will give each eligible student in Kansas $1,000 to use for “educational goods and services” if the child’s parents have a household income less than 300 percent below the federal poverty guidelines.

The previous eligibility requirement was 185 percent.

“Without this program, my kids wouldn’t have their iPads or laptops,” Shawnee mother Kat Freeman said. “I’ve already seen, just their artwork grow in leaps and bounds over the last couple of months since they’ve had them.”

Freeman said her family did what they could with a used desktop computer someone gave them.

The Shawnee Mission School District does provide each student with a device during the school year, but Freeman’s child Trinity Spangler said some summer nights ended in sibling competition for the computer.

“Occasionally we fought over the device over who got to use it first and things like that,” Trinity said. “We could never really find time for it all.”

Freeman said there wasn’t enough money to buy individual devices for their three kids still in school until the KEEP program came along.

“For them, it’s different when it’s their own because then they can customize it,” Freeman said. “They can do what they want with it and I think they are already benefitting from it.”

The program gives families who qualify $1,000 per child, with the choice of what to spend the funds on left up to each family.

Parents or guardians can purchase instruments, tutoring sessions, admission to academic camps or iPads like Freeman did for her children.

Taimarie Adams is the Executive Director of Grants and Scholarships at Merit, a partner in the KEEP program. She said individual choice is a key part of this program.

“We know parents and guardians know their students best and where those gaps might be so you can really customize,” Adams said.

Applications on the state’s website remain open without an end date listed. Adams said similar programs in other states have seen popularity that prompted further extension.