Carla Oakley (left) is currently enrolled at MCC and plans to receive her nursing degree before enrolling to UMKC. Myranda Gilmore (right), valedictorian, will attend MCC in the fall and work towards an associate degree and pursue a career in the field of occupational therapy.

Teaching one and all

Jump in, wherever you are

At UMKC, education is not out of the reach of anyone. By joining other local efforts –community colleges, neighborhood centers, libraries and school districts – UMKC extends a range of services to accommodate students. Three are highlighted here.


Adults continue learning

Since 1995, UMKC has been a Collaborative Partner in the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program, a 40-year effort of the Kansas City, Missouri public schools offering youth and adults the basics for job training, GED certification or technical expertise and life skills. Each year, as many as 6,000 students attend ABE's day and evening classes.

UMKC recently won ABE's Partner of the Year distinction for its contributions and financial support. At ABE's graduation ceremony, hosted by UMKC, two students earned the 2+2 scholarship. Metropolitan Community Colleges awarded them $2,000 for the first two years of schooling; and, as it has done for the last 10 years, UMKC gave each one $2,000 for the next two years.

Some UMKC staff members, along with representatives of businesses, labor unions, educational and community groups, serve as ABE Advisory Board members.

"Because we know UMKC's resources," said Dee Evans, UMKC assistant director of community relations and former ABE Advisory Board chair, "we can help ABE find counseling services, English as a Second Language instruction or sponsorships. We go out into the community, and we want the community to come here and become familiar and comfortable with our campus."

The relationship benefits both ABE and UMKC. Because teacher certification is available through ABE, Reginald Bassa, director of UMKC's Program for Adult College Education (PACE), can send continuing education students to ABE for this certification process.

Another path to an education

PACE is UMKC's alternative to a traditional college education, designed for working students and those with families. Weeknight and weekend course and independent study are offered. Internet and web-based classes round out this nontraditional program. Approximately 300 students are full-time, with an additional 200 students taking classes intermittently.

Sarah Berlin, UMKC graphic designer, took a PACE class – New Urbanism – through the Urban Planning and Design department at the end of her workday.

"It was ideal for a working person," she said. "The class met on Monday nights, leaving me my weekends to study and prepare for tests."

For those needing 30 hours or less to complete their studies, an online degree completion program begins this fall. But Bassa recommends that students think it through.

"We want our students to succeed," said Bassa. "Those who want to finish online will be subject to careful scrutiny. We don't want anyone to fail if the difference is coming to class in order to stay focused."

Starting young

Since 2008, UMKC has participated in the YMCA's Young Achievers – a program operating on the premise that when younger students commit to pursuing an education, they will remain focused on their goals. Young Achievers introduces career and academic planning to teens of color or teens from disadvantaged backgrounds in grades 8 to 12.

On the second and fourth Saturday of each month, for one year, students attend information sessions on the UMKC campus about topics including careers, academic enrichment, job shadowing, resume preparation, college applications, entrance exam prep and service learning. A writing workshop was provided for this year's participants through UMKC's Writing Center.

UMKC instructors and administrators, alumni and staff are part of the Adult Achievers corps, professionals – primarily from the minority community – who volunteer to lead students through career development and enhancement sessions. Volunteering as Adult Achievers offers alumni the opportunity to repay assistance they received as students. Faculty, alumni and School of Education students who served as tutors were recognized at this year's closing celebration.

Who benefits?

Through these associations, African American, Hispanic and less privileged students are exposed to university life, and begin to see themselves as having college potential; and UMKC's reputation as Kansas City's urban university of choice in is enhanced. UMKC helps ameliorate educational and achievement disparity among minority and disadvantaged teens, solidifies its relationship with its community by investing in youth, and affects the urban core in a lasting – not just one-time – manner.

Young Achievers, PACE and ABE all fit UMKC's mission: to be an active and contributing partner with its city.

Posted: July 27, 2010

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"We go out into the community, and we want the community to come here and become familiar and comfortable with our campus."

Dee Evans
Assistant director of community relations

UMKC received the Collaborative Partner of the Year Award for their valuable contributions and financial support. Pictured are Dee Evans, Chair ABE Advisory Board (left) and Laura Lane, Interim Manager ABE.