The University of Missouri and a Kansas City-based nonprofit have announced a $40 million scholarship program.

University of Missouri in Columbia

The new funding will support 800 additional scholarships at MU over the next several years, each worth $10,000 per year for up to five years, to Kansas City area students.

KC Scholars will contribute $20 million, while MU and the University of Missouri System will contribute $10 million each, for a total commitment of $40 million. KC Scholars was launched in 2016 by the Kauffman Foundation, an enterprise of the late Kansas City entrepreneur and Royals baseball team owner Ewing Kauffman.

The first students to benefit from the arrangement will enroll at the University of Missouri in Columbia in fall 2019. They applied earlier this year and were eligible but will only now receive the scholarships with the funding in place.

The new announcement is in keeping with the UM System’s Promise and Opportunity Scholarships program. Last September, UM System President Mun Choi announced that the system would invest $75 million in Promise and Opportunity Scholarships.

Choi thinks the partnership with KC Scholars is beneficial to MU and to students who are seeking scholarships. “We have been focused on creating pathways to success for students and stakeholders who want to invest in the University of Missouri,” Choi said. “The system’s investment in the KC Scholars program is another way for us to provide more opportunities for talented students to achieve their full potential.”

In order to qualify for the KC Scholars traditional scholarship, students must be juniors in high schools in one of six counties in the Kansas City region, have at least a 2.5 GPA and supply a financial need for additional support. The counties included are Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Platte, Clay, Cass and Jackson counties in Missouri.

KC Scholars currently awards approximately 500 college scholarships annually to attend one of 17 partner colleges and universities in Missouri and Kansas, including MU.  46 KC Scholars awardees are enrolled at MU, the largest proportion of KC Scholars students at any college or university.

MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright thinks the partnership will enhance the ability of financially challenged students to gain access to scholarships. “KC Scholars works hard to provide financial assistance to students who want to attend college, and this partnership will ensure that even more students who qualify for KC Scholars will benefit from this important effort,” Cartwright said. We are dedicated to our pursuit of eliminating financial barriers for students from Missouri and the Kansas City region who want to come to Mizzou.”

Terry Bassham is president and CEO of Evergy, the holding company that owns the utilities Kansas City Power & Light and Topeka, Kansas based Westar Energy. Bassham, who is also a KC Scholars board member, notes the partnership will help strengthen the supply of qualified workers in the region. “The Kansas City-area business community recognizes that it goes a long way to help fill the workforce pipeline our economy desperately needs, said Bassham. “I am confident the region’s philanthropic community will step up to match MU’s $20 million.”