Kansas City Neighborhood Academy Launches

Kauffman and Hall Family Foundations Donate $1.6 Million to Charter School

By Anna Sturla
KCUR

The Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family Foundation will donate more than $1.5 million over two years to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, a new charter school serving East Kansas City.

The Kauffman Foundation is donating $1 million, while the Hall Family Foundation is donating $600,000.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for our new school,” says Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. UNI was created by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in order to revitalize Kansas City neighborhoods.

KCNA will open its doors on Aug. 2, and serve pre-K through second grade during its first year. The school will add a grade each year until sixth grade.

Urban Neighborhood Initiative and Kansas City Public Schools co-founded KCNA, modeling it after a successful program in Atlanta.

KCNA is the first charter school sponsored by the Kansas City Public Schools Board.

“A charter school can be perceived to be a competitor. And we don’t want to be a competitor. We want to part of our neighborhood,” says Terry Bassham, chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The donated funds will go to the school’s STEAM curriculum—science, technology, arts and math—as well as remedial math and literacy programs. The school will serve 220 students its first year, eventually growing to about 500.

“I’ve told people from day one, my job is to advocate for my school system, but all of our kids deserve to be educated. All of our kids deserve to have choice,” said Mark Bedell, the superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools. “In essence, [KCNA] is giving our kids another option, it’s giving our families choice, but it’s giving them choice under the jurisdiction of our school system.”