Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Announces $2.5 Million in New Investments to Support Education Opportunities for Kansas City-Area Students

Foundation to expand commitment to local education through support of new charter schools and local scholarship programs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 8, 2015) — The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced a set of new investments totaling $2.5 million to provide greater numbers of Kansas City-area students with incentives and opportunities to reach high levels of educational achievement. These include a Kauffman grant of $1 million, in partnership with the Hall Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, to Citizens of the World Charter (CWC) Schools to support the development and opening of a network of four charter schools in Midtown Kansas City as well as $1.5 million from Kauffman to support 10 local college scholarship programs.

Midtown Charter Schools Grant

"The Kauffman Foundation has been committed to improving education outcomes since the start," said Wendy Guillies, Kauffman Foundation acting president and CEO. "A key component of our education strategy is promoting access to quality public school options in Kansas City. We are pleased to collaborate with other funders and partners to help bring Citizens of the World Charter Schools to our community."

The Kauffman Foundation's grant is being paired with grants of $650,000 from the Hall Family Foundation and $1 million from the Walton Family Foundation to support the efforts of the Midtown Community Schools Initiative (MCSI) — a community-based grassroots organization working to provide education opportunities for families in Kansas City's Midtown neighborhoods (State Line to the West, Prospect to the East, Union Station to the North and Brush Creek to the South).

"We are pleased to partner with the Kauffman Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and others to bring a public charter school operator of the caliber of Citizens of the World to Kansas City," said Tracy McFerrin, vice president of the Hall Family Foundation.

In the fall of 2013, MCSI issued a request for proposals to potential partners and subsequently selected CWC Schools to bring its concept to Kansas City. Two elementary schools will open in August 2016 with initial classes of K-1. By 2027-28, CWC Schools expects to enroll 1,650 students in two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. The total funding of $2.65 million will be used to ensure a successful launch of the first CWC Schools for the 2016-17 school year.

"It is empowering to see families and community members play such a proactive role in bringing viable public school options to our neighborhoods," said Andrew Johnson of the MCSI. "Today's announcement gives us one more reason to continue to live in Midtown Kansas City for years to come and to continue the work of building stronger communities."

CWC Schools is a promising charter school network currently operating five schools in two states – California and New York – that provide a rigorous, high-achieving education to an economically and racially diverse student population.

"We are extremely excited to come to Kansas City and grateful for the support we have already received from the community," said Kristie Dragon, co-founder and CEO of Citizens of the World. "There is a high degree of interest and enthusiasm locally for improving educational outcomes, and Citizens of the World looks forward to helping the next generation of Kansas Citians reach their full potential."

Local Scholarship Grants

The Kauffman Foundation also announced a grant of $1.5 million to 10 local scholarship programs specifically targeting lower-income, minority and/or first generation college students.

"Ewing Kauffman recognized the importance of an education beyond high school in leading a productive, economically independent life," said Guillies. "Programs like Project Choice and Kauffman Scholars have helped local students achieve that goal. Providing postsecondary completion incentives for more students in Kansas City is part of the Kauffman Foundation's legacy and these scholarship grants will provide even more local students with college opportunities beyond those currently participating in Kauffman Scholars."

The grant recipients include: the Black Community Scholarship Fund; the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools' Diploma Plus program; Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship; Go-Long Scholarship Fund; KCMO Opportunities Scholarship; Transition into Post-Secondary (TIPS) Scholarship; Guadalupe Centers, Inc. Tony Aguirre Scholarship; Kansas City Public Schools Early College Academy; Bishop Ward/Donnelly College postsecondary program; and Cristo Rey/MCC Penn Valley postsecondary program.

"We know that in our community, financial resources prevent many from pursuing their dream of a college education, despite overcoming many other challenges" said Ramon Murguia, chairman of the Hispanic Development Fund. "The support of the Kauffman Foundation ensures that many deserving students will have the opportunity to pursue their college education and provides them with a boost of confidence to know the Kauffman Foundation believes in them."

Funding for scholarships and college completion supports have been part of the Kauffman Foundation's work in Kansas City since Ewing Kauffman launched the Project Choice program in 1988. Two years after the completion of Project Choice in 2001, the Kauffman Scholars, Inc. (KSI) program was started with a commitment to serve eight classes of students over 19 years.

Kauffman Scholars, Inc. Updates

The eighth and final class of seventh-grade students in the KSI program was admitted in 2011 and will be high school juniors this fall. With fewer students involved in the program, KSI will undertake changes commensurate with the progression of its students and their changing support needs, some of which will result in staffing changes and some work will be absorbed by the Kauffman Foundation. KSI expects approximately 13 positions to be eliminated in 2015; however, no changes will be made prior to the completion of the current school year. The Foundation will provide support to the KSI team to identify new opportunities for departing staff, as well as providing information to KSI students, families and partner organizations over the coming months.

By the time the final class of KSI students graduates from college in 2022, the Kauffman Foundation will have invested more than $140 million in over 2,200 area students. "Although the KSI program will conclude in 2022, the Kauffman Foundation's commitment to current KSI students is unwavering," said Aaron North, vice president of Education for the Kauffman Foundation. "In addition, we will provide support beyond KSI in order to give even more Kansas City-area students the opportunity to earn college degrees and enter adult life with as many opportunities available to them as possible."