Housing Activist Dedicated to Support Fellow Veterans

Bryan Meyer honored as UMKC Alumnus of the Year
Bryan Meyer outside a tiny house at VCP

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The university and the association are honoring Bryan Meyer (B.A. ’11, M.P.A. ’15, J.D. ’15) with the Alumnus of the Year Award.

Meyer is a co-founder of the Veterans Community Project at 89th and Troost in Kansas City, an innovative non-profit that provides housing for homeless veterans in a tiny home village. The idea arose from meetings he convened among numerous local veterans like himself who wanted to do something to address homelessness and other problems in the veteran community. Today, under Meyer’s leadership as CEO, the VCP also provides wrap-around support services and emergency assistance.

Buoyed by the VCP’s local success, Meyer was inspired to take the concept nationwide. In 2019, he brought on fellow veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander to lead the expansion campaign. Using Kansas City as the blueprint, VCP has officially begun its expansion launching its first satellite location in Longmont, Colorado.

What personal experiences drove you to pursue a law degree and M.P.A.?

When I began at UMKC, I didn’t have a plan to pursue a particular degree because I didn’t know what my long-term goals were. Instead of pursuing a degree, with the intent to secure a particular job, I pursued subjects I found interesting. Those interests eventually lead me to an understanding of my desire to assist those around me. I know the knowledge gained from an M.P.A. and law degree have been instrumental in my ability to provide a benefit to my community.  

What has been the greatest challenge in launching the VCP? 

The greatest challenge was taking something from a good idea to an actuality. Veterans Community Project is a great idea, but even the best ideas aren’t enough, it’s the ability to implement ideas that makes a difference.

What do you hope for in the future for yourself and Veteran’s Community Project?

I hope Veterans Community Project reaches every community across the country. There is a need for this programming everywhere. The scale of it may change but the need is everywhere.

What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

For anyone trying to create a solution to a problem, I would tell them to listen to the stakeholders. Don’t assume your solution is correct without first discussing it with those who will be impacted by it.

What is your favorite UMKC memory?

On the first day of law school all the first-year students were gathered in the same room. Students were asked to stand when certain phrases applied to them. For example, “stand if you have more than 5 siblings” or “stand if you own a pet.” Eventually, we were asked to “stand if you don’t even know if you want to be a lawyer”, so I stood up. I was the only person standing. Apparently, most people don’t attend law school without the intention to be a lawyer. 

How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success?

UMKC consistently reminded me there is always more to learn. For example, while in  pursuit of my Masters, I took a class in leadership. I served five years in the Marine Corps and lead other Marines in two different combat deployments, I attended the first day of class confident there wasn’t anything I could learn on leadership from a classroom I didn’t already know from personal experience. I was wrong. The class remains one of my favorites, and I still revisit some of the material for a refresher.

About the Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring Meyer and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.

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