KC's Newest Charter School Receives $1.6 Million Boost

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA) today announced grants of $1-million and $600,000, respectively, from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family Foundation to support the new charter school established by the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) in partnership with Kansas City Public Schools.

KCNA will open its doors August 2 for the 2016-17 school year, serving Pre-K through second grade. Additional grade levels will be added in succeeding years, ultimately serving students in Pre-K through sixth grade.

“We deeply appreciate the generosity from both the Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family Foundation and thank them for their votes of confidence in KCNA,” says UNI Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. “Our new charter school is at the heart of UNI’s long-term effort to revitalize neighborhoods east of Troost.”

UNI's neighborhood revitalization plan calls for a high performing charter school, mixed income housing, and the addition of health and support services for residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The project is based on the highly successful model developed by Purpose Built Communities in Atlanta, Georgia, which has been working closely with the UNI board and staff to replicate in Kansas City.

“The Kauffman Foundation believes that Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA) is an important move in improving education in Kansas City,” says Kauffman Foundation President & CEO Wendy Guillies. “KCNA is an innovative approach developed through a strong, community-driven collaboration and is already well-positioned for success due to these partnerships.

The grant is part of the Kauffman Foundation’s support of public schools within KCPS boundaries that seek to improve the academic and life outcomes of students. KCNA joins Citizens of the World and the Kauffman School as the three school start-up projects supported by the Foundation since 2010.

“The Kansas City Neighborhood Academy represents a unique partnership between Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) and UNI to develop a district-sponsored charter school - a move that indicates it doesn’t matter what type of public school it is - charter or district - but whether the school is high-quality,” says Dr. Mark Bedell, KCPS Superintendent. “The support from the Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family Foundation increases KCNA’s potential to meet the needs of many low- and modest-income students.”

KCNA Principal Dr. Robin Henderson says she’s delighted. “The grant funds from the Hall Family Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation allow KCNA to implement many of the key components of the highly-successful Atlanta school in KCNA’s first years of operations,” she said, “including a robust enrichment program with STEAM emphasis, rather than having to wait until enrollment numbers could support these components.”

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is one of the KC Chamber’s “Big 5.” Chamber President & CEO Joe Reardon, who is also a member of the UNI Board, says, “This is great news. We thank both the Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family Foundation for their support of KCNA, as well as Purpose Built Communities and the many others who helped make this possible.”