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$50 million from Ewing Marion Kaufman to create KC career training opportunities
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$50 million from Ewing Marion Kaufman to create KC career training opportunities

KC Scholars is cultivating the most reliable and diverse workforce pipeline for traditional and non-traditional students within our region.

The new KC Scholars program, Great Jobs KC, will provide the opportunity for adults to secure jobs that pay $45,000 to $85,000, in high-demand industries, in under a year.

Kansas City Scholars, Inc. recently announced a new $50 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to cover tuition for adults who want to enroll in existing career training programs in high-demand, high-paying jobs.

Throughout the next decade, Great Jobs KC will cover the costs to train, credential, and place thousands of people in careers with high earning potential, with a focus on developing a racially diverse workforce.

Great Jobs KC is designed to empower adults 18 years and older to take control of their future by being trained in a high-demand career in 12 months or less. Careers that do not require a college education but are in high demand in the Kansas City area include health care, information technology, construction, and manufacturing.

KC Scholars will pair team members with interested adults to explore career possibilities, help them enroll in an established, approved training program in one of the high-demand areas, and stay by their side through the first year of their employment to support their success. In addition, KC Scholars will work with interested adults to ensure they find support for affordable childcare and reliable transportation, two often-cited barriers to successful completion of education and career training.

KC Scholars knows how to support low- and moderate-income individuals to earn college degrees and have awarded funding to over 6,000 scholars with extraordinary results, including an annual persistence rate of over 90%. The KC Scholars team is utilizing what they have learned over the last six years to reach 32,000 additional adults and help place them on a path to careers with earnings of $45,000 – $85,000 by 2032, with at least 20,000 of those individuals being adults of color from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

“KC Scholars has always believed in lifelong learning, and with this catalytic grant from the Kauffman Foundation, we are excited to expand our offerings to adults who are looking for a career with upward mobility, but who may have lacked the means and support in the past,” said Earl Martin Phalen, CEO of KC Scholars. “KC Scholars is cultivating the most reliable and diverse workforce pipeline for traditional and non-traditional students within our region. These efforts will upskill and help improve the workforce, which will better the quality of life and the socioeconomic path of our communities.”

“The Kauffman Foundation has long understood that there are multiple pathways beyond high school for people to achieve the success they want and deserve,” said Aaron North, Kauffman Foundation’s Vice President of Education. “Our grants are designed to support the region with common-sense alternatives in addition to robust support for two-year and four-year degrees. The KC Scholars grant will shape and catapult the region’s workforce preparedness for many years to come.”

Kansas City Scholars is a college scholarship, college planning and persistence support, and college success program designed to increase the college completion rate for low- and modest- income students and adult learners across the six-county, bi-state service region. KC Scholars launched in September 2016 and, in less than six years, has experienced widespread community engagement and rapid scaling. We now have more than 6,000 Scholars, with over 2,000 scholarship recipients currently in college. KC Scholars has exceeded goals for number of scholarships awarded and college enrollment and persistence rates. Early impact rates are significantly higher than for the region, state, and nation.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities.

Susan Chambers is interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. With more than $2.5B in assets, the Kauffman Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States, and approaches its work from the middle of the country with a solid Midwest mindset – working to build practical and workable solutions to today’s challenges.

Chambers was previously executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Walmart, where she was recognized as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune Magazine five years in a row. In her role at Walmart, she reported directly to the CEO and was responsible for managing, attracting, and retaining the world’s largest private workforce. Chambers was responsible for compensation, recruiting, development, and retention initiatives as well as benefits and communications for more than 2 million Walmart associates worldwide. Additionally, her duties included human resource technology, culture, diversity and inclusion, and regulatory issues.

With deep roots in Kansas City, Chambers’ career has been focused on building systems and talent within some of our country’s largest corporations. Chambers worked with Kansas City-based Hallmark for 14 years, with increasing responsibility culminating in the position of director of application development. She currently serves as chair of the board for William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri, where she graduated with a BS in systems and data processing.

Beyond her work experience, Chambers’ passion has been focused on helping students find educational success. She currently serves on the Arkansas State Board of Education and previously on the boards of Kansas State University, Walmart Foundation, and Duke University

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