Editor’s note: Startland News is a media sponsor for the Junior League of Kansas City’s C3KC conference. Click here for tickets to the event, which features a keynote address by best-selling author Adam Grant.
Challenges abound in Kansas City, Kimberlee Ried acknowledged, but opportunities for innovation to push change are even more plentiful. An in-person conference Tuesday at Union Station is expected to gather potential collaborators for an all-day event focused on finding such solutions, she said.
“C3KC is the only conference of its kind in Kansas City where we bring together leaders from the corporate, civic, and community sectors to understand current issues we’re facing,” said Ried, president of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri — host of the C3KC conference.
Among the challenges on Tuesday’s agenda: how fintech innovators can help under-banked communities build wealth.
The fintech-focused panel conversation — sponsored by Startland News — is expected to pick-up where C3KC’s 2021 program left off: discussing the local wealth gap and increasing financial access for all communities, Ried explained.
“It was a great discussion around how we can improve communities’ economic growth by focusing on positive change in financial literacy, access to banking, and local investment,” she recalled of the 2021 virtual event.
“This year, we wanted to focus a little more on the innovation side of wealth building for underserved communities,” Ried continued. “It started with an interest in understanding how neobanks were helping the under-banked get banked. It broadened into fintech when we saw how crypto and other financial tools were also impacting those needing access to banking services.”
Donald Hawkins, founder and CEO of neobank First Boulevard, and Zach Anderson Pettet, host of the “For FinTech’s Sake” podcast, are set to speak during the conversation.
Click here to learn more about C3KC’s lineup of thought leaders.
“Our aim is to help attendees understand how fintech strategies can be adopted in communities that have found banking inaccessible and how ultimately those communities will benefit from the changes.”
The full list of scheduled panel and breakout sessions at C3KC 2022 includes:
- Climate Change: Effects and Answers in our Region — a look at how climate change can disproportionately affect marginalized communities.
- FinTech is Revolutionizing Banking — strategies to close the gap for under-banked communities and the positive impact on wealth building.
- Health Equity — how meeting the basic needs of housing, education, and livable wages can positively affect health outcomes in our community.
- The Mental Health Crisis is Getting Younger — the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students’ learning and mental health; how can Kansas City collaborate to better support students?
- The Future of Neighborhoods — innovative approaches to housing and benefits to the whole community when building strong neighborhoods.
- Philanthropy in a Post COVID World — changes in non-restricted donor giving since theCOVID-19 pandemic and what it can mean for the stability of non-profits.
- Play to Play — play for the sake of play — a design-thinking approach.
The 2022 event will also feature Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author, as keynote speaker.
Meet at Union Station
Tuesday’s conference welcomes several high-profile attendees, Ried noted, including Cordell Carter II and Jon Melgaard, executives of the Aspen Institute — an example of the caliber of leadership that will be represented throughout the conference when cross-sector changemakers descend upon Union Station.
“Whether you’re a corporate executive, philanthropist or government leader, you have a role to play in making our city great,” said Ried.
“In the League’s 105 years of service to Kansas City, there’s been one constant: no one person can bring about change alone. It takes leadership, funding, and policy change — with representatives from all three of these groups to address highly challenging social issues,” she explained.
“C3KC is the perfect opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals.”
One noteworthy example of a person to meet: Sandra A.J. Lawrence, a local business leader and dedicated community builders, is set to be honored with the League’s Branton/Hall Community Collaborator Award during the event.
“[Lawrence] is being recognized for her dedication, commitment to servant leadership, and making a positive impact in the community through the many organizations she has served in leadership roles,” the organization said.
“She has a three-decade history as a leader on the boards of some of Kansas City’s most well-known mission-driven and civic organizations.”
Connecting the dots
The pandemic — which kept C3KC attendees away in 2021 — has affected the intersection between community needs and the ways in which they are supported financially and civically, Ried said, citing statistics from the National Philanthropic Trust, which revealed corporate giving in 2020 decreased by 6.1 percent over 2019 while individual charitable giving increased 5.1 percent.
“With 10,545 nonprofits registered in Kansas City in 2020 — connecting the dots between those organizations, private sector donors and the civic entities can be a challenge. Further, the issues facing our city are vast,” she continued, citing a recent study by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership in conjunction with the Junior League.
“Nearly 300 nonprofit leaders across the metro identified 24 different issues as what they viewed as the one most pressing right now in Kansas City. That’s where the C3KC conference comes in,” she said, referencing the impact of the conference and ways it created real world solutions that actively serve critical needs in Kansas City.
Since 2017, more than 2,500 attendees from the private, nonprofit and civic sectors have come together to identify issues in Kansas City and connect those who want to get more involved to create partnerships, secure funding or create greater civic awareness, Ried explained.
“The conference has helped to grow emerging nonprofits like Kanbe’s Markets, an organization aimed at eliminating food deserts or areas without consistent access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods.”
Maxfield Kaniger, founder of Kanbe’s Markets, said attending the conference had a profound impact on his path toward feeding Kansas City.
“The conference gave us the exposure we needed to grow from a little start up nonprofit of one employee serving seven stores into the organization we are today — 27 full time employees who serve 43 stores, offering fresh food within a half mile of more than 200,000 Kansas Citians,” he said.
Ried said she’s hopeful more stories like Kaniger’s are written during the 2022 conference.
Click here to read more about Kaniger, one of Startland News’ Kansas City Community Builders to Watch honorees in 2021.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.