On September 8, 2022, Avila University announced a groundbreaking partnership with KC Scholars to provide full tuition scholarships to at least 100 low-income students from the greater Kansas City region each year over the next eight years for a total of 800 students. When speaking about this unique partnership, Dr. Jim Burkee, Avila’s President, expressed the importance of serving these students because of the impact a college education can make for first generation, low income students. The partnership fits Avila’s mission as Kansas City’s private University of access.
KC Scholars was begun by KC leader Ewing Marion Kauffman who believed that the inequities in society could be addressed by increasing the number of low- and modest-income students enrolling and completing a college degree. Using funds from the Kauffman Foundation and community donors, the KC Scholars program funds college tuition and provides support for college planning, advising, preparation for entrance examinations and support in applying for federal financial aid prior to college, and continues support through to graduation.
Each year high school juniors in the Kansas City area apply to be selected as a KC Scholar. The program annually identifies approximately 1300 students as qualified to succeed in college and eligible to receive funds. Unfortunately, the program is only able to provide funding for around 400 students. The remaining 900 unfunded but qualified students frequently never attend college due to cost. The Avila-KC Scholar partnership will provide funds and support for 100 of these students each year to assist them in realizing their dream.
Statistics show that college graduates earn on average around $25,000 per year more compared to those with only a high school diploma, have significantly more opportunities for employment and experience better overall health. In a recent editorial in the Kansas City Star, Earl Martin Phalen, president and CEO of KC Scholars, wrote
“Can you imagine what it would mean for Kansas City to see thousands of low and modest-income men and women earn a college degree? At KC Scholars and Avila University, we can.”Earl Martin Phalen
Avila certainly can because this partnership fits its 106 year mission of serving the dear neighbor without distinction.