Since President Mun Choi announced a major investment in need-based scholarships in September, the University has secured $80 million for the UM Promise and Opportunity Scholarships. Of the $80 million, the University of Missouri System contributed $20 million by matching funds for scholarships at University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Columbia, with the ultimate goal of contributing $75 million towards these scholarships over the next five years. Successful funding is the result of partnerships between the UM System, individual universities and community contributions. The integration of philanthropic support was a major point in President Choi’s September address, in which he outlined up to $260 million in future investments for the UM System. As part of the agreement, each university will be required to match and then seek philanthropic support to expand the benefits of the system investments going forward.
Investment matching was provided by UMKC and MU, as well as by several community partners. The first partnership was with KC Scholars, a program that provides financial help to students from low- and modest-income families in the Kansas City area who are interested in pursuing higher education. In November 2018, UMKC Chancellor Agrawal announced a $20 million investment for the UM Promise and Opportunity scholarships, including $10 million from KC Scholars, $5 million from the UM System and $5 million from UMKC.
In December 2018, MU Chancellor Cartwright and leaders from KC Scholars announced an additional $40 million investment in the UM Promise and Opportunity Scholarship program, with $20 million from KC Scholars, $10 million from the UM System and $10 million from MU. Like the UMKC program, the scholarships will provide up to $50,000 to students to attend MU. The partnership is expected to provide financial support for up to 800 students at MU over the next 8 years.
In January 2019, the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation and the H&R Block Foundation pledged a total of $10 million towards scholarships at UMKC. The Henry W. Bloch/UMKC Promise and Opportunity Scholars program expands the existing UMKC Henry W. Bloch Scholars program to serve approximately 200 students. The Bloch scholarships target promising students from urban neighborhoods who would not be considered for traditional scholarship programs due to past academic performance or life circumstances. Like the KC Scholars investments, these were matched by the UM System and UMKC, for a total of $20 million.
New scholarship opportunities are part of a systemwide initiative to lower the cost of higher education and reduce student debt. Other efforts in the cost-reduction initiative include development of an Open Educational Resources (OER) network and a new partnership with Cengage, one of the largest textbook publishers in the United States. The UM System continues to explore methods of lowering student costs, including seeking interested community groups to expand the UM Promise and Opportunity Scholarship program as well as the Next Generation Merit Scholarship program, a merit-based opportunity, to all four universities.