Our story began in a literal “upper room” above an urban core Catholic church on Swope Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1997, the Upper Room was formed to raise $1.5 million to renovate this space in disrepair since the 1960’s. This transformation created the learning center which has been home to thousands of students and volunteers ever since.
In 1999 our first Summer Academic Program grew out of a large focus group consisting of the predominate heads of household in the neighborhoods we work in: single mothers. In the Program’s first summer, 250 students applied for our 90 available spots, indicating the immediate need to grow. Summer by summer, we’ve grown to meet this need, developing relationships with the churches and schools that serve as our sites. In Summer 2016, we served 1,750 students at 15 partnering schools, churches and community centers.
Just as our Summer Academic Program was developed at the behest of the families we serve, all of our academic and arts programs have been grassroots driven. Our After School Program serves 300 students at 4 sites, all located in the urban core. Partnerships with Alvin Ailey and Em’s Spotlight provide free dance lessons to thousands of students. The year-round Eddie Baker School of Music passes Kansas City’s rich jazz heritage to more than 250 students and provides free music lessons from our city’s talented musicians.
As we continue to grow with the support of our families, we look forward to providing opportunities to thousands of students in Kansas City’s urban core.