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New KC Scholars program helping combat underemployment, labor shortages

KC Scholars helping connect people to new opportunities and better paying jobs
Posted at 7:41 AM, Dec 01, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Great Jobs KC, a new KC Scholars program, is helping connect adults living in the Kansas City area to better-paying jobs to elevate their lifestyle.

"It is so important for adults to have stronger economic jobs, jobs that pay $45,000- $85,000, jobs that give opportunities for advancement, jobs that allow their families to have health care,” said Earl Martin Phalen, KC Scholars CEO.

The program could potentially help more than 30,000 people pay for training through a $50 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. With that funding, the program helps pay for short-term training programs in various fields like healthcare, construction, technology and more.

Phalen explains such partnerships with employers and training programs within the metro are effective two-fold because it helps both people within the program and their community.

"I think a program like KC Scholars has an incredible impact on Kansas City,” Phalen said. "We need great talent and diverse talent to help our economy grow.”

Thus far, 272 people have taken advantage of the new program. One of the recipients Mario Meyers owned a landscaping business. But because of financial obstacles, he wanted to obtain his CDL.

Meyers applied and was approved to be part of Great Jobs KC, which helped pay for his training at the New Reflections Technical School. He now has job interviews lined up with salaries that are double what he was making.

"It was going to be $5,800 to attend the school, so it was going to be a significant amount of money with me having two kids and a wife at home," Meyers said. "I don't know how I was going to find that."

To qualify, applicants must be 18 years or older, make less than $45,000 a year, and live in Cass, Clay, Johnson, Jackson, Platte and/or Wyandotte counties.

“Adults are the ones who take care of the family, so we see this as a great way to strengthen families here in Kansas City," Phalen said.

The application takes less than 20 minutes to complete.