The Kansas City Fire Department is launching a scholarship program unlike any other in the nation in hopes of bringing diversity to the department and the industry.
KCFD openly admits its crews are not diverse enough. As a little boy growing up in the inner city, Gregory Patton II agrees.
"Just living in the inner city I can't really say it's very diversified as far as the fire department, as far as black firefighters," he said.
He and other prospective firefighters like Dashawn Stubbs would have to spend nearly $3,000 on paramedic training to become a dually certified modern day firefighter.
"Books, any supplies, I would need all that. I could use the scholarship to help me in that type of way," Stubbs said.
A new scholarship with $50,000 set aside will focus on helping inner city kids forge a career path in emergency response.
"You have a significant Hispanic population in Kansas City and a significant African-American population, so you direct your attention to those through the scholarship program," said community activist Alvin Brooks.
The fire department says diversity is a struggle in most U.S. cities and the scholarship fund could set a national example for recruitment incentives.
"I wanted to become a man of the community, have a career, establish myself very well and the fire department and paramedics could help me do that," Stubbs said.
In the Kansas City Fire Department 13 percent of firefighters are African-American. That's compared to the community at large where 30 percent of the population is African-American.
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