Momentum Builds as Community Donates to Kansas City Scholars
Kansas City Scholars is more than a scholarship program. It’s the community’s program to meet the needs of low-and modest-income students, as well as adult learners, finance and complete a college education. KC Scholars is wholly unique. It is a community-driven effort, bringing together more than 70 people from different sectors in Kansas City to plan, develop and implement the program. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of this process and I am very excited to see its progress.
The Kauffman Foundation, in part to honor Ewing Kauffman’s legacy to education, has pledged $79 million over the next 10 years to help fund the first 2,000 KC Scholars’ students. That’s a great start, but the need is significant. And now the community is rising to the challenge and donating to KC Scholars so that more than 2,000 students can earn a college degree and get a good job.
In just a few short weeks, KC Scholars has received nearly $200,000 in commitments, including several named scholarships from individuals and companies such as Carolyn Watley, U.S. Engineering Company and Global Prairie. The KC Scholars Implementation Committee, on which I serve, knew there would be generous donors who would immediately step up to add their name to the growing list of supporters. We are grateful to them.
It is important momentum that we must continue — 2,000 students is just the start. The urgency and need of this program is clear. Simply stated, the success of this program is directly tied to the success of our region.
It is estimated that by 2020, two out of three jobs will require more than a high school diploma and, in Kansas City, we know there aren’t nearly enough people entering and completing college to meet those job demands. By providing traditional scholarships to high school students, providing scholarships to adult learners who have some college but no degree, and helping ninth graders and their families save for college, KC Scholars will help close that gap. We know that a person with a college degree earns, on average, more than $1 million dollars more during his or her lifetime. That’s $1 million more to buy a home, to spend at local businesses and restaurants or invest in a new business. That’s also money back into our tax base which supports basic services that in turn make the region a great place to live, work and raise and family.
As the application process for KC Scholars approaches in January, I am confident that more individuals and companies will step up and invest in this unique endeavor to support our future workforce.
We know that their future is our future. Let’s continue to invest in that future.