100 Reasons to be Proud (and 700 More on the Way)

In December, Kauffman Scholars celebrated its 100th graduate. Just writing that sends a jolt through my fingers. That voltage comes from pride in the students, families, and staff that have worked hard to support first-generation college students pursuing their degrees. Some of that charge also comes from something I know that maybe you don’t – this is just the beginning.

By the end of 2022, those 100 graduates will have 700 fellow alums of the Kauffman Scholars program. Starting today – right now – Kansas City should expect to see a hefty share of those 800 first-generation college graduates, largely African-American and Latino, coming back to Kansas City over the next six years with degrees in hand ready to engage in the life and work of their communities. It is my hope that some of those students work in places like the Kauffman Foundation and in the programs supported by our organization and others to ensure everyone has the opportunity for a quality education and an abundance of opportunities as an adult. I suppose they could also work in the entrepreneurship department of our Foundation, but I will be competing for first dibs. Just kidding. (Sort of.)

That is my pitch. I encourage you to start thinking about your pitch. How are you going to get a place at the front of the line to hire and cultivate the hundreds of students representing neighborhoods and families that are often overlooked and underrepresented? These are students with the postsecondary bona fides, but also with the grit, moxie, and focus that often speak louder in the workplace than the degrees people carry. (For more information about Kauffman Scholars Career and Alumni activities, please email India Wells-Carter).

Over the coming months and years, the Kauffman Foundation will work closely with the Kauffman Scholars program to ensure you know how to bring your best recruiting mojo to bear as students in the program graduate from college in greater numbers.

This year marks Mr. Kauffman’s 100th birthday. Just like acknowledging the 100th Kauffman Scholars student crossing the big stage, we will continue to share more about his legacy of giving in Kansas City. Consider this post a sneak preview of 700 more aspects of that legacy coming soon.

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Aaron North

Aaron North is vice president of Education at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, North served as the founding executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA). Before leading the startup effort at MCPSA, North worked in Minnesota as a charter school sponsor, school resource center director, and in the Minnesota Department of Education's Office of Choice and Innovation. He also served as secretary for an urban elementary charter school board in Minneapolis.