December 19, 2020

KC Scholars is poised for continued impact at bridging racial and economic disparity in adults earning a post-secondary degree and is providing good news when good news is needed.

Shameka Swinton

On Friday, Dec. 11, KC Scholars awarded 78 deserving Adult Learner scholarships that will springboard into a total of 200 Adult Learner scholarship awardees by May 2021. To celebrate, KC Scholars hosted a live in-person surprise event for Adult Learner awardee Shameka Swinton, at Genoa Pharmacy in Lee’ Summit, her place of employment. They also videotaped surprise Zoom calls with another Adult Learner award group.

The KC Scholars Adult Learner scholarships are open to adult learners across a six-county area of the Kansas City region. The awards provide financial assistance, college advisement, and college planning and persistence support for students who have the greatest need and who may otherwise be unable to complete a postsecondary degree. For awardees, their dream of a college education will now become reality.

The KC Scholars program’s ability to bridge the racial divide speaks volumes. The average age of the 78 adult awardees is 34.5, 80% are female and 74% are first in their family to attend or complete college. 77% are individuals of color, 72% are from Jackson County, 4% are from Cass, 6% from Clay, 9% from Johnson and 10% from Wyandotte. On average each Adult Learner awardee has 68 college credit hours previously earned and has a 2.94 average GPA on credits. 100% are employed and nearly 75% are full-time and others are in one or more part-time jobs and they work for 69 unique employers.

“The question put in front of me is how will earning my degree enable me to reach my career goal and my answer is this, earning my bachelor’s degree in Health Science will allow me to continue my passion for helping people,” stated Shameka Swinton, Adult Learner awardee and pharmacy technician for Genoa Pharmacy. “For the last six years I have watched how difficult it is for people to maneuver through the health system. My goal is to support them and be someone who is on their side. What this degree will allow me to do is help take the burden off families and put it on me. I want to provide them with an easier way to get through the system and make it work for them. This is a major stepping-stone in my career.”

In 2019, KC Scholars implemented an early award Adult Learner Scholarship application process. Previously, all applicants – including adult learners – applied during a 9-week window starting on January 1 annually. Realizing that this short timeframe provided to working adult learners who are balancing many responsibilities may be limiting, KC Scholars innovated and created a second, early, application and award process. This gives early awardees more time to plan for a return to college and to work with campuses on enrollment.

“This support is so incredibly well-deserved for Shameka,” remarked Danelle Christian, Shameka’s supervisor at Genoa Pharmacy for PharmD. “This KC Scholars scholarship rewards her inspirational demeanor and drive to further her education, and I could not be more excited for her!”

To be eligible for this award adult learners must be age 24 and up, live in one of the six eligible counties (Wyandotte, Johnson, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte), be low-to modest-income, have previously earned at least 12 college credits at an accredited, Title IV, postsecondary institution and has not earned a degree OR has previously earned an associate degree and will use the scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The mission of KC Scholars is to increase postsecondary education attainment in the greater Kansas City area. KC Scholars provides the means – through scholarships, financial incentives to promote college savings, and support services – for low- and modest-income students and adults needing access to pursue and complete a postsecondary credit-bearing credential or degree. KC Scholars provides the opportunity for college for those that likely would not have otherwise attended or completed.

“KC Scholars stands for hope and opportunity – something our collective soul yearns for at this time. The impact will live on for generations to come and will enrich our regional community,” stated Dr. Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, president and CEO of KC Scholars. “KC Scholars opens doors of opportunity for our Scholars, and for their families, and ensures fair and equitable access to education and employment. With the support of this program, this region’s Adult Learners can fulfill their dreams!”

Right now, individuals are looking for ways to make a difference. Now, more than any time before, donating to support a students’ opportunity for college matters! We urge the KC community to donate to KC Scholars to ensure that this region’s students and adults can access postsecondary education in preparation for a career in our region. For more general information about KC Scholars visit

“Our Scholars are this community’s future leaders, neighbors, co-workers, and front-line service providers,” continued Tankersley-Bankhead. “In this uncertain time, we must not – we dare not – forget the positive impact of education.”

You are invited you to support the Scholars by giving online at or sending a check to KC Scholars, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 402, Kansas City, MO 64114.