Working for you(th): Kansas City nonprofit helps send over a dozen students to college

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some impressive Kansas City students are getting a nice boost from a local nonprofit called Giving Hope and Help.

Their initiative, the "Education is your Passport Scholarship Fund," is helping send 15 metro students to college.

The founder and president, Jessica McClellan, said it's her mission to change lives.

“I would love for the students to know that whatever it is you want to do, you can do it. Whatever college it is you want to go to, you can do it," McClellan said.

She said it started as an idea as she stood in a long financial aid line for school more than 30 years ago.

"While I was in the line, a dream was born. The dream was born to give full-ride scholarships. I wished that I could pay for everybody in the line, including myself, and so here we are, 31 years later," McClellan said.

Now, she's watching her dream of helping disadvantaged students come true.

She founded the scholarship fund in 2014, awarding recent graduates everything from laptops, toiletries and bedding. They also provide full scholarships through a special partnership with Metropolitan Community College.

McClellan said it's all about investing in the future generations.

"In our pool of over 5 years, we have had students overcome abuse, homelessness, gun violence -- everything. When I read these essays, I need Kleenex because how can you overcome all of this, and still maintain, most of them, a 4.0 and above cumulative GPA?" McClellan said.

University Academy grad Bernadette Looney is just one of the success stories.

The 18-year-old is headed to Harvard with a full scholarship.

She's the first of nine siblings to accomplish this feat and one of three students at her school to get accepted into a prestigious Ivy League.

"I never really thought of myself going to Harvard. It was more of right before the deadline is when I decided to apply to Harvard, just to see what would happen," Looney said.

McClellan said the students are all shining examples of what can happen with a little support.

“The goal is to continue to give out more scholarships. We`re looking forward to the community learning more about what we are doing and supporting our scholars with internships," McClellan said.

This is the first year in the program's history that they awarded full scholarships. A $500 legacy scholarship was also awarded, in honor of McClellan's grandparents.

Altogether, students received more than $100,000 worth of scholarships.


If you'd like to profile any person or any group that's "Working for Youth" in the metro, email FOX4 at news@ fox4kc.com with the subject line "Working for Youth."

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