A Conversation With KC Degrees
Serving the 14 counties of the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area, KC Degrees joined the Network in 2016.
Why does this work matter?
Like other metropolitan areas across the nation, the Kansas City region faces challenges in educating a skilled workforce to meet employer demands. In Kansas City, approximately 82 percent of good jobs require some postsecondary attainment. In the last 10 years, 40 percent of new jobs created require a bachelor’s degree, but only 34 percent of adults over age 25 in the region have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The new KC Degrees initiative will support returning adult students to return and finish college. KC Degrees will particularly focus on helping adults age 25 and over — many of whom are already in the workforce — complete high-quality certificates or degrees in high-demand career fields.
KC Degrees has the capacity to support thousands of returning adult students to realize their ambitions for the future. While the program will provide positive benefits for the returning adult students, it is also expected to have a positive impact on their children (who are three times more likely to graduate from college if at least one parent did), their workplaces, and the Kansas City region.
Why are you building a pathway locally for adults to come back and complete a degree?
The National College Access Network conducted a landscape analysis around college readiness and completion service in the Kansas City metro area. The study found that of approximately 60 area agencies that include college readiness in their mission, only 5 percent include any services for adults, and none of them are comprehensive.
Given that low number, we began to look for possible solutions outside of our region. Through a technical assistance grant from Lumina Foundation, Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) contracted with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to seek successful models in other parts of the nation. This search led us to the Graduate! Network.
Who were your first champions?
KC Rising, a business-led effort launched in 2014 to increase the region’s global economic competitiveness by focusing on trade, innovation and human capital. KC Rising’s Human Capital Work Group — and especially it’s postsecondary attainment task force team — are strong proponents of KC Degrees.
- The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City-based philanthropy that emphasizes entrepreneurship and education, is a strong partner in a suite of postsecondary initiatives, including KC Degrees, GradForce KC, KC Scholars and more. KC Degrees, in partnership with The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and KC Scholars (KCS), has established a Postsecondary Network that includes 17 higher education institutions at which scholarship recipients may use their KC Scholars Scholarship to earn a credit-bearing credential or degree or receive adult learning support through KC Degrees.
What's your goal?
To increase the number of adults completing college. KC Degrees will also help build strategies to strengthen postsecondary attainment services for adult students at institutions of higher education and with employers.
What are you aiming for?
We aim to have 75% of Reconnectors (adult learners) return and finish a high quality certificate or degree. In doing so, we will have a long-term impact on the Kansas City regions human capital marketplace where through our work, we influence trade, ideas, and people for the long-term stability of our regional economy.
Why is your community an awesome place?
Kansas City has a thriving downtown with a popular new streetcar system, the fastest high-speed fiber network anywhere, world famous barbecue, and world champion sports teams. We’re at the creative crossroads of America, with a legacy of artistic and entrepreneurial innovation that spans more than 125 years. We’ve recently been named the best baseball town in America, one of the coolest cities, the most fun, the most affordable, the most cultured, the most charming, the quirkiest, and one of the best cities for entrepreneurs. We’ve been recognized for our restaurants, our music scene, our startups, our steakhouses and our coffee. Our people combine Midwestern friendliness with the Midwestern work ethic.
Community Advising Locations
KC Degrees – Angelina Pacheco Reconnector Story