Grant will pay for students to relocate to Wichita, attend WSU Tech


The Wichita Community Foundation announced plans Monday to partner with WSU Tech on a program that will help potential students relocate to Wichita to train for high-demand jobs.

WSU Tech will receive a $500,000 grant to pay for students’ housing, transportation, and other living expenses, as a part of the foundation’s $1 million initiative to address Wichita’s workforce issues. Effective July 1, WSU Tech, formerly Wichita Area Technical College, will become affiliated with Wichita State.

“These dollars will allow us to invest in workforce development and to create some innovative strategies to create the workforce that this community badly needs,” WSU Tech President Sheree Utash said.

Only the aviation sheet metal mechanic program will be eligible for the scholarship this fall, but WSU Tech spokesman Andy McFayden said the school hopes to expand the initiative to cover other programs in the future.

Foundation officials said their $1 million investment in the workforce comes in response to an analyst’s assessment that Wichita’s economy has stagnated, with more people moving out of the city than moving in. James Chung, a Wichita native who runs a New York-based strategy and research firm, was hired by the foundation in 2015.

On Monday, Chung offered an assessment of his hometown, saying Wichita has been “stuck in neutral for about three decades, with basically no growth, amidst the landscape of a growing U.S. economy.”

Foundation leaders said they plan to award more grants in the future, but they are not currently accepting applications.

Clark Bastian, chair of the foundation’s board of directors and CEO of Fidelity Bank, has donated to WSU in the past. This February, Fidelity Bank and its family owners gave the WSU Foundation $1 million for the construction of a new business school building on Innovation Campus.