Kauffman Foundation makes changes to decades old scholarship program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A concerned parent contacted us over recent changes to the Kauffman Scholars Program which pays for the college of 1500 urban youth in Kansas City. They're still paying for schooling, but limiting the choices.

Previously, students could chose any college now they have a list of twenty to chose from -- a decision the foundation stands behind, but parents are still questioning.

Starting in 2003, the Kauffman Scholars Program looked for kids in middle school who qualified for the program. Its mission is to prepare them for college and support them until they graduate.

A parent, who reached out to 41 Action News, said he felt Kauffman's commitment had changed. He did not want to be interviewed, fearing his student's scholarship would be in jeopardy. But he did email the following: "In January of this year, Kauffman told all the kids that they couldn't go out-of-state to college."

He said the foundation did not give the students a list until January, when most have already applied to colleges.

Aaron North, Director of Education at the Kauffman Foundation, argues families were notified at the beginning of the school year about the changes.

"We've learned a lot about college access versus college completion," North said.

North said the foundation made the decisions after looking at data and getting feedback from students and families.

"Any change that we make or any programming that we do is again pursued through a very thoughtful lens of is this going to help students graduate from college."

Students like Ryonell Frederick, a junior at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. He will now have 20 colleges, 10 in Missouri and 10 in Kansas, to choose from.

"It did turn out to be a great scholarship even when they made the changes to the program," Frederick said.

North also said students can still apply to other colleges and if they are accepted they will still get their scholarship if they meet the criteria: an ACT score of 25 or higher and a GPA of at least 3.0.

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