KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A group offering scholarships to those who thought it unattainable surprised four local learners with scholarships Thursday morning.

KC Scholars targets low-income learners over the age of 23 who live in the immediate Kansas City area, giving them an opportunity for scholarships and post-secondary completion support programs.

The organization has awarded 856 scholarships since its inception, including 74 Adult Learner scholarships on Thursday. 

Among those surprised with a scholarship was Jarrod McDaniel, a special education assistant at Lee Tolbert Academy. McDaniel is pursuing an education degree.

“Working in education, I believe it’s important for me to be able to show these kids a strong black male leader with a degree," he said. “Kids in the school that I currently work at don't have a lot of male influence in their lives. My biggest thing in working with youth is to show them that you can be cool and smart at the same time. It's cool to make good grades and be an outstanding member of society. My goal is to earn a degree in education to continue working with youth.”

“Jarrod consistently expresses wanting more for himself in order to make a bigger impact on and for those around him," said LaTonya Meeks, McDaniel's coworker at the Lee Tolbert Academy. "Within one of our discussions he said, 'It is time for me to make a bigger impact. I can help so many more kids, I just need the credentials to get me in the door.'"

A few other Kansas City area recipients who were awarded scholarships on Thursday include:

  • Tiffany Wallgren, a retention specialist at Community Service League. She is pursuing a degree in HR management.
  • Cassie Diehl, a secretary at Harrison High School. She is pursuing a degree in early childhood education.
  • Paul Nyakatura, a radio announcer at KCUR. 

“KC Scholars is proud that it supports adult learners to return and complete their postsecondary degree," said Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, president of KC Scholars. "We see this as a way to enrich our regional workforce and to increase college completion rates in our region. In our current economy, supporting adults to upskill and complete a credential that opens doors to opportunity is critically important.”

Click here for more information about the program, or click here to donate.

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