By Jeff Murphy, April 30, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO – Fulfilling a vision by Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Kauffman, KC Scholars is transforming students’ lives through renewable financial assistance/scholarships for college, college savings programs, and support services to help them successfully attain a post-secondary degree or credential. The KC Scholars program, supported by the Kauffman Foundation and now nearly 300 external donors and growing, includes opportunities for traditional students who are entering the university for the first time as well as adult learners who may have started their higher education but have not had the opportunity to finish.
The University of Central Missouri has created the new UCM Scholarship for KC Scholars, which adds financial support to that already being provided by KC Scholars. The first UCM Scholarship for KC Scholars awards, specifically for students planning to attend UCM, will be available in fall 2021. This applies to students enrolling at UCM in Warrensburg and at UCM-Lee’s Summit.
Christopher Lang, the university’s interim director of admissions, said there are two UCM Scholarships for KC Scholars awards, the Traditional Student Scholarship and the Adult Learner Scholarship. To be eligible, a student must be part of the KC Scholars program, have a GPA 2.0 or greater, and continue to meet the requirements set by KC Scholars to remain a scholar each academic year. Through KC Scholars, Traditional students are receiving up to $10,000 a year, renewable for five total years, and Adult Learners are receiving up to five years of support (with amounts varying based on full- or part-time status). The UCM Traditional Student Scholarship will cover costs remaining after the KC Scholars’ scholarship is applied to cover the full cost of attending UCM. The UCM Scholarship for KC Scholars can be applied toward tuition, general fees, textbooks, residence halls, and meal plan – an award value up to almost $19,000.
“The UCM Scholarship for KC Scholars is a last-dollar scholarship that will pay for any remaining need the student has after the KC Scholars scholarship and all other gift aid has been added to the student’s account,” Lang said. “The only cost not included within this scholarship is flight fees associated with our aviation program. We will also include an additional amount to help cover travel expenses each semester to travel home or use for other expenses the student might incur.”
The Adult Learner Scholarship will cover all of the student's tuition and general fees throughout the year after the KC Scholars scholarship and all other gift aid has been included. The only cost the students will cover is housing, if they decide to live on campus.
Dr. Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, KC Scholars president and chief executive officer, praised the collaboration with UCM. She noted that these new scholarships that augment the KC Scholars scholarship have “opened wide the doors of opportunity for KC Scholars that select UCM as their campus home.”
In addition to the Traditional and Adult Learner scholarships, KCS provides a College Savings Match program. This program is for ninth graders, and seeds up to 250 college savings accounts annually for students with KCS matching their annual savings toward their future higher education. These components all have eligibility requirements that take a holistic view of the student. KCS seeks to bolster the likelihood of student enrollment and completion through opportunities such as college advisement, college planning workshops, campus tours for parents and Scholars, assistance with college-going processes, and college prep and completion timelines. Scholars are required to participate in campus-based support programs their first two years of college.
Tankersley-Bankhead stressed the difference KCS is making in educational attainment while also contributing to a stronger workforce in the Kansas City region.
“We are aware of no other program nationally that is like KCS, which provides three distinct scholarships, awarded annually, with college advisement support and with a specified workforce goal,” Tankersley-Bankhead said. “And, KC Scholars is now adding a fourth program component by supporting completion of short-term certificates/stackable credits, with college credits awarded for certificate completion.”
In the four application and award cycles KCS has completed since 2017, KCS has distributed more than 4,200 awards. It plans to award more than 1,000 scholarships in May 2021.
“By 2027, there will be at least 10,000 Scholars in the program. At this scale, KC Scholars will be transformational to thousands and to this entire region,” Tankersley-Bankhead said. She added that 96 Scholars are currently enrolled at UCM.
Randi Perry, who recently became an elementary education teacher at Fort Osage Elementary School, is among the KC Scholars who call UCM their alma mater. She was in the KCS program for two years and finished her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in May 2020 through opportunities at UCM-Lee’s Summit.
“I was thankful to know someone who knew about the KC Scholars program and she knew how badly I wanted to return to school to fulfill my dreams as a teacher, however, she knew that financially it wasn’t possible for me,” Perry said. “KC Scholars was a blessing to not only me but my family as well. I was able to return to school, become a teacher and not have the burden of student debt weighing on my shoulders. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.”