KC Scholars Scholarship Awards make college possible for Olathe, area students

KC Scholars Scholarship Awards Make College Education Possible for Area Students

KC Scholars is poised for continued impact and sustainability and is the “go to” resource for diversifying the region’s workforce.  

On Friday, April 30, KC Scholars (kcscholars.org) will announce its annual highly anticipated college scholarships for low-and-modest income students and adult learners across the six-county Kansas City region. This marks the fifth year the awards have been given. Awards include renewable financial assistance, college advisement and planning support, and persistence support. KC Scholars provides an opportunity for a postsecondary education for students who may otherwise be unable to complete a postsecondary degree without incurring large debt loads. For awardees, their dream of a college education will now become reality.  

This year, there were more than 1,600 applications. More than 74 percent of the applicants are individuals of color; more than 70 percent will be the first person in their family to attend college, and students are from 95 unique public, private, charter and home schools.

On April 30, KC Scholars will announce nearly 1,000 scholarships totaling a renewable investment of over $32 million.  As occurs each year, KC Scholars will surprise some awardees at their homes, accompanied with a car parade, and surprise others via Zoom.

“KC Scholars provides pathways to and of opportunity. KC Scholars changes individual and family lives. KC Scholars creates family patterns of completing college. KC Scholars connects is awardees to practical experience and employment in our region. KC Scholars is transformative – for individual recipients and for the region. And, KC Scholars is a program of large scale that is working to create inclusive prosperity in our region,” stated Dr. Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, president and CEO of KC Scholars. “KC Scholars has now made over 5,000 awards in just five years and is looking forward to all that lies ahead as we continue to provide fair and equitable access to a postsecondary education. Just think, within five application and award cycles we have had 70 awardees graduate from college and 84 more graduates anticipated in Spring of 2021. With the support of this program, this region’s students can fulfill their dreams!” 


“Two years ago, I couldn’t fathom returning to school and balancing all of the responsibilities at the same time,’ stated Rashawn Aiono, 2019 Adult Learner Awardee, UMKC student and first-generation college student.  “As a working single parent, full-time student and Covid 19’s ever changing precautions this year has posed so many challenges!  The KC Scholars program has afforded me another chance to pursue my dreams.  Today, with the help of KC Scholars I am on the Dean’s list, thriving at home and work, and on the cusp of being accepted into UMKC’s competitive nursing program.  I could not have made it this far without the relentless encouragement of the KC Scholars team.  Thank you for seeing me and nourishing the budding potential waiting to grow.” 


KC Scholars’ recipients have proven to enroll in college at rates near 100% and to continue in college in the high-90 percentile. For the adult recipients that’s nearly 40 percentage points higher than the national average. For the high school recipients, the rate is more than 20 percent higher than national averages. And these numbers remained steady, even during the pandemic.

“KC Scholars has allowed me to go to a University and gain a support system like no other,” remarked Roman Leapheart, 2018 KC Scholars Traditional Awardee from Cristo Rey Kansas City, who is now a Secondary Education Major at University of Missouri.  “As a first-generation college student in my family, the Award has pushed my name into rooms my feet are yet to see. It has supported me and allowed to not worry about my financial status, giving me the ability to make the change I want to see.”

KC Scholars’ goals include that 75 percent of Scholars complete a credit-bearing credential, associate, and/or bachelor’s degree and that 80 percent of completers stay in the Kansas City region to live, work and contribute. 

“Tankersley-Bankhead reminded us that, “We must not – we dare not – forget the positive impact of education in addressing racial and social equity.” 


Again, KC Scholars will be sharing additional details about the media photo/video opps for the April 30 surprise awards event closer to the date.  For more general information about KC Scholars visit  https://kcscholars.org/.