KCU awarded $16 million to build new Center for Population Health and Equity

Kansas City University (KCU) has thus far received a total of $16 million in federal and foundation support for the development and building of a new Center for Population Health and Equity (CPHE) on both their Kansas City and Joplin campuses.

The latest grant is from the Sunderland Foundation, a Kansas City-based family foundation with a history of supporting capital building projects that align with the organization’s mission to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves. The foundation awarded KCU a $5 million grant to assist in the construction and capital improvements of buildings that will house the Center on both campuses.

The project began with U.S. Congressionally directed funding for both FY 2022 and FY 2023 totaling $11 million to be used for the development of the CPHE. Under the leadership of former Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) serving as Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Appropriations Subcommittee, KCU received federal funding for facilities, equipment and programming to address the needs of Missourians in both the urban core and rural communities.

“The Sunderland Foundation is pleased to support KCU in this very worthy endeavor. The University’s mission to ‘improve the well-being of the communities it serves’ is in perfect alignment with our own mission here at the Foundation,” said Kent Sunderland, chairman. “KCU’s Center for Population Health and Equity is exactly the commitment our communities require to explore the root causes and systems that create inequitable outcomes and create solutions to build more equitable and just communities.”

“We appreciate the Sunderland Foundation for their generous grant of $5 million and their confidence and commitment to support KCU’s development of the Center for Population Health and Equity,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO for KCU. “For 108 years, KCU has remained committed to our mission, which mirrors that of the Foundation. We know this partnership will make great strides toward creating healthy conditions for all Missourians to help them to thrive and flourish.”

The $11 million of Congressionally directed funding is a direct response to some of the most pressing needs of Missourians. After a 10-year moratorium on earmarked funding by Congress, Blunt successfully secured $8 million in federal funds for facilities and equipment for the CPHE along with $3 million for programming.

“I am certain that now is the time for a concerted focus on population health and equity. This center will benefit the entire State of Missouri,” Blunt said. “The strength of KCU’s geographic diversity among its urban and rural campuses coupled with experience in curricular innovation across various health professional programs makes the University uniquely suited for establishing this Center for Population Health and Equity.”

“Senator Blunt’s influence will forever change how Kansas City University both understands and positively supports the health of the population we serve,” Hahn said. “Always a leader and visionary, the Senator has time and time again demonstrated his passion for improving the quality of life for fellow Missourians. We are very thankful to receive these funds and appreciate the Senator’s hard work and support for the residents of Missouri and for KCU.”

The overall purpose of the CPHE is to engage communities in addressing the factors that impact health — the social and structural determinants that contribute to health inequities.

The Center’s focus will be on the communities served by KCU’s two campuses located in Kansas City and Joplin, Missouri, where significant disparities persist and prevent respective underserved urban and rural populations from attaining their full health potential.

KCU will anchor population health and health equity in curricula across all its academic programs in osteopathic medicine, biomedical sciences, clinical psychology and dental medicine. With more than 2,000 students and a focus on interprofessional education, KCU has a unique opportunity to positively impact people’s lives in Missouri and beyond.

The additional grant funding from the Sunderland Foundation will be critical for completing this project. Capital improvements to launch the Center will include a remodeling project on the Kansas City campus with an anticipated opening in summer 2024 and construction of new facilities to the house the Center in Joplin, including research laboratories slated to open in 2025.