With a legacy of paying it forward, KC nonprofit awards more scholarships than ever before

Working For Youth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Amid the pandemic, one Kansas City nonprofit is handing out more scholarships than it’s ever done before.

Jessica McClellan, founder of Giving Hope & Help, said giving is in her family’s DNA.

“They came from slavery to changing the world,” she said.

Her great-great-grandfather, Robert McCallop, founded the McCallop Bus Company in the 1930s in Johnson County, taking Black kids to school during segregation.

“He started with his pickup truck,” McClellan explained. “He would put kids in the truck and drive them to school, and it grew into a 14 fleet of buses.”

Nearly a century later, McClellan’s nonprofit works to better the future for underserved college-bound students at some of the same schools.

“We want to give the life skills that they need to move forward and better the community,” she said.

This year, the organization, which also supports women and girls in need of period products, is awarding scholarships, valued at $30,000, to 23 seniors.

One of those scholarships includes an all-expense paid education at MCC Penn Valley.

“Many of them want to be the first graduated with a degree and help somebody else,” McClellan said, looking at Keyshell McDonalds, who was awarded the full ride to MCC.

“When I first got the call, I was crying excited because I didn’t think I was going to get it,” the Raytown High senior said.

McDonalds, who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, was planning to work her way through college. Now the scholarship will allow her to focus on her studies.

“It’s a blessing to have someone care,” she said.

McDonalds and the other recipients will also get brand-new laptops, bedding for their dorms and backpacks filled with school supplies and toiletries.

McClellan said together, she and the awardees can make a difference in our community.

“Many of the scholars are already giving,” she added. ‘Some of the scholars work for domestic violence shelters, volunteering. Some are already giving out food to the community. This opens the door for so many that are coming behind them.”

Giving Hope & Help usually holds a big ceremony and fundraiser for the winners, but COVID-19 got in the way of that. However, the organization is still fundraising on its website and social media page.

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