Service-based education provides powerful impact in first year

While everyone is celebrating the start of summer, we here at Uncover KC are celebrating the completion of our Discovery Education Program’s first official year. My name is Jenn Bowden and as Director of Programming, I had the pleasure of working with thousands of students, teachers and administrators from 21 schools across Kansas City. And needless to say, we’re thrilled with the impact they made:

2018-2019 Discovery Education Program Highlights:

  • 4,069 student volunteers

  • 29,563 completed service hours

  • 52 local nonprofits supported by student initiatives

  • $751,787 in value for those nonprofits

As a quick refresher, the Discovery Education Program aims to educate students (pre-K through college) about social issues and provide them with the means to take positive action within their communities. We promote this social emotional learning so our next generation is empowered with not only the knowledge of service, but the tools to get involved. The program has been incredibly well received and we’re amazed with how deep students want to explore the social issues that surround them.

UKC Director of Programming Jenn Bowden, left, poses with students from Lakeview Middle School’s social entrepreneurship class.

UKC Director of Programming Jenn Bowden, left, poses with students from Lakeview Middle School’s social entrepreneurship class.

With younger students, the aim is to provide community awareness through consistent service projects. The kids learn about social issues while creating onsite projects to send to local organizations. A few standout projects include Socktober, a sock drive for those experiencing homelessness; chew toys for animals in shelters; superhero kits for kids in the care of child services; and various holiday decorations and cards for local nonprofits.

For older students, the program evolves into a project-based curriculum that provides experiential learning opportunities. These teenagers and young adults research social issues of interest before creating their own projects to raise awareness, donations or funds for corresponding organization. By working directly with the organizations, the students are able to see the impact of their efforts first hand.

Past year examples include Richard Warren Middle School’s 'Thrive Drive', which raised material donations for Leavenworth Interfaith Community of Hope; Lakeview Middle School social entrepreneur's class, who created pro-social enterprises to raise hundreds of dollars for various local organizations; and Liberty North High School senior leadership, who planned and managed a full day of community service for their 350+ class.

Like any pilot program, we learned a lot our first year and have found some exciting areas for improvement. With school now officially out, I’m taking time to review the past year and make needed adjustments before we kick back in gear come August.

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone involved in making this first year a success. Also, if you’d like to learn more about how to introduce our Discovery Education Program into your school district, please feel free to contact me at As you can see from the numbers above, not only does the program create significant impact, but the students prove that they are ready to be our next leaders of change.


Jenn Bowden (, 816-943-9716)