Initiative helps adults in Greater Kansas City return to college and obtain higher levels of post-secondary education
KC Degrees, an initiative designed to help adult students in the Kansas City region return to college, recently celebrated the program’s first graduate. Karen Rawlins, a workforce development specialist for the state of Missouri, graduated from Park University on Saturday, May 13, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
“I’m grateful to KC Degrees for helping me complete my college degree and for the amazing support I received from my college success navigator Pam Harris,” said Rawlins. “At times I was worried I couldn’t do it, but Pam believed in me and helped me stay focused to the end.”
Located at key community locations across the region, KC Degrees’ trained navigators help adult students or “reconnectors” assess their career goals, find the best fit available among postsecondary education programs, apply for enrollment and seek financial aid. Navigators work one-on-one with students as they attend school and complete their degrees. Since the program was launched by the Mid-America Regional Council in September 2016, 298 reconnectors are actively participating in the KC Degrees program.
“Earning a college degree is so important for anyone seeking a job in today’s workforce, but many people who want to go back to school don’t know where to begin,” said Cedric Deadmon, project manager for KC Degrees. “Our navigators help them get started and stay engaged until they finish.”
KC Degrees is part of the Graduate! Network, which was founded in Philadelphia and has grown to include more than 20 communities. KC Degrees is led by a guiding team of business and higher education professionals, and receives financial support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Johnson County Community College, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Kansas. The program is one of several initiatives designed to increase postsecondary attainment in the Kansas City region, including:
- KC Rising — a business-led effort launched by MARC, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council designed to increase the region’s global economic competitiveness. Human capital is one of the driving forces in this effort.
- Gradforce KC — an initiative created as part of Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment brings businesses and educational institutions together to support postsecondary education that prepares graduates for jobs in high-demand fields.
- KC Scholars — a new scholarship and college savings match program for low- and modest-income students and adults. In May 2017, the program awarded 91 scholarships to adult-learners in the Kansas City region, including 24 who are clients of KC Degrees.
Adults interested in applying for the KC Degrees program can meet with navigators at Full Employment Council offices and several branches of the Mid-Continent Public Library System in Missouri and Workforce Partnership locations, the Johnson County Library and Olathe Public Library in Kansas.