• Community name:  Kansas City
  • Website: http://www.wycokck.org/
  • Population:  157,845
  • Graduation rate:  43.9%
  • Youth poverty rate:  36.4%


A first-time winner of 100 Best, Kansas City, KS was recognized for its dedication to improving educational outcomes for area youth. Specifically, the Kansas City (Kansas) School District stepped up to unify youth support programs in the community and as a result has helped to raise math proficiency from 3 percent to 68 percent, and reading from 11 percent to 67 percent on state assessments. To address low achievement, the city and school system instituted a new reform program called First Things First, which helps foster youth development by strengthening relationships between adults and children, and between schools and families. In addition to the framework, the city also implemented Early Release Wednesdays, a model that dismisses students from school early to provide teachers with extra time to work together to strengthen their teaching skills and develop comprehensive lesson plans.

Kansas City, KS also helps young people understand the importance of community and service through the Link Crew program. The program helps rising freshman transition from middle school to high school with the connection of a mentor. Seniors and juniors are trained as mentors to help freshmen understand what it takes to be successful in high school.

Community Programs

  • The Link Crew program trains high school juniors and seniors to become role models and mentors for rising freshmen who are transitioning to high school.
  • Early Release Wednesday is a model adopted by the Kansas City public school system to allow teachers more time for skill development and comprehensive lesson planning.
  • First Things First is a reform that was created to foster youth development and strengthen relationships between adults and children and school families and the school system.

Youth Voices

“College representatives come to school to talk to students in hopes of getting their interest. Employers visit as well. These are great for giving students an opportunity during the school year to learn about their future education and work options.”