Kansas City’s Metropolitan Community College (MCC) was one of the first schools in the country to offer an alternative path to four-year higher education by providing an associate degree program. Such programs are less expensive and often focus on preparing students for the workforce through two-year curriculums that teach the skills needed for specialized fields such as carpentry, automotive mechanics or healthcare administration. The approach proved a good fit for the local communities’ needs and the college now offers 125 associate degree and certificate programs, including a new Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) initiative looking to create more opportunities for high-paying jobs in healthcare.
The CNA initiative helps fulfill MCC’s mission in providing affordable educational options to the local community and also helps address local community needs around workforce opportunity — Kansas City’s poverty rate is 5% higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.footnote1 Additionally, with over 50% of MCC students needing financial aid to cover tuition costs, MCC established the MCC Foundation, a nonprofit that advances the mission of the college by raising operational funds, providing tuition assistance, and developing programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs.
The CNA initiative reflects the growing importance of the healthcare and social assistance industry in the local economy. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, the sector makes up 11.5% of the 1.1 million jobs in Greater Kansas City. The Healthcare sector has grown faster than any other industry over the last decade, with more than 3,000 new jobs each year and average annual earnings of $52,259. In response, the MCC foundation decided to fund a CNA program at MCC. CNAs are vital to patient care, performing basic nursing tasks for people in long-term care facilities, adult daycare centers, hospitals or their homes. Upon successful completion of the program, students earn a CNA certification, allowing them to enter the nursing field.
Bank of America supports the program directly through grants as part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, covering tuition and related expenses for qualifying CNA students. Because the program is not eligible for Federal Pell Grants or Financial Aid, this funding provides critical support for students who may not have the resources to pay for the education required to enter this growing and potentially lucrative field.