Small program at KCK Community College planting big seeds in minds of troubled students

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Fringe Benefits of Education is a KCK Community College initiative that helps students who are on the "fringe" of dropping out of school.

Students say the program has changed their lives.

"We have a 98% retention rate," Director Rodger Suggs said. "You can bring them in, but do they stay? Our program meets at 6 o'clock at night, which means they go home and come back here. That’s way more impactful then if I just pull them out of class and they show up in a meeting."

Suggs said his job is to turn his students' visions into dreams.

"Before they leave the program, I buy them a business license," he said smiling. "If you wait too long, the desire will go away. You make a plan and you go after it."

The FBOE program provides peer-to-peer mentorship, workshops and network building. Suggs said the program seeks to target students who may not attend college or those who are on the verge of dropping out.

Gary Bradley- Lopez, a recent graduate of the program, was once one of those students on the fringe.

"I’ve been in this program since 2016," Bradley-Lopez said. "I was recruited from Wyandotte High school to FBOE. I started the program as a student and went up the chain as a student leader. Now I come back to be a mentor or friend to students that are at the college."

Bradley-Lopez is set to graduate from UMKC in December with a masters degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism.

"When I first started at KCK Community College, I wasn’t the most respectful student to people in general. I wasn’t the most polished person, but with the mentorship of Roger Suggs and the student leaders in FBOE, they were able to shape me into the right direction."

Suggs told FOX4 that the school supports the initiative but admitted that some of the troubled youth that he helps need assistance outside of the classroom.

"There was a young lady that used to be in the program that I noticed had a hygiene issue; she was sleeping outside the dorm rooms," he explained. "I asked about some resources for her but didn't find any, so I raised the money for her on my own."

Currently, FBOE has students who need a home or an escape from the place that they wish they could call home.

"It's hard for some of these kids, but seeing the success that students like Gary reach is just remarkable; it makes it all worth it," he said.

If you are interested in learning more about the FBOE program, you can visit their Facebook Page.

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