DETROIT, Mich. - A Detroit charter school classroom has "adopted" the University of Kansas in a program designed to benefit each institution, according to The Kansas City Star. Students at Eaton Academy are raising money to support the university's Audio-Reader Network, a free reading and information service for the blind and visually impaired. In response, network volunteers keep in touch and have sent the school several boxes of KU paraphernalia as a way to inspire the youths to look ahead to college.

"Some of them (students) don't see more in life than becoming a rapper, a basketball player or working 9 to 5 at the local KFC," teacher Joni Lantry Kostich told The Star. "But they are amazing kids, trapped in a city like Detroit."

Kostich told the Star that a blue sweater vest with a KU emblem was an instant hit with students, and that she now uses it as a reward for effort and achievement. At least one student now wants to attend the university.

"It was just my small way of reaching out," Patty Mathews, an 82-year-old widow and Audio-Reader volunteer, told The Star. Mathews, who supplied the vest, has a daughter dedicated to teaching in urban schools through the Teach for America program, she told The Star.

Shauntilija Stephens, 17, said she is grateful to Audio-Reader volunteers because "a lot of people think kids from Detroit come from a rough neighborhood and they can't do positive things. But I am here. They see me. I want to thank them for that, for the opportunity to do a good thing."

SOURCE:
The Kansas City Star, "Adopt-a-college program links KU volunteers, Detroit youths," Feb. 4, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan lift the cap on charter public schools? Yes," Nov. 21, 2006

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