A 2015 Microgrant enabled Exchange City to take an expanded program to kids.

BTL - Learning Exchange - Post Callout DetailKansas City’s very popular Exchange City program for kids faced the challenge of changing times. 

Responding to rising overhead and diminishing school budgets, its parent organization, TLE (Teach & Learn Experientially), decided to take the program to kids rather than having the kids come to the TLE facility. 

The organization also saw the need for a full-day environmental program but didn’t have the money to fund it. So TLE applied for – and received - a KCP&L Microgrant. 

TLE is using its grant to expand its environmental Earthworks program. That includes creating, housing and maintaining sustainable compost piles that will supply the soil it takes to schools to educate kids in sustainable agriculture. The grant is also buying scoops, bins and a storage area for the compost. And it’s providing the organic seeds the kids will plant, take home, care for and watch grow. 

Both programs are offered at minimal cost to schools located within a 75-mile radius of Kansas City. 

Program differences

The Exchange City program teaches 4th through 12th graders about opportunities and responsibilities in the American free enterprise system. The kids learn how a city functions; how budgets, banks and debit cards work; and how people earn a living and elect their public officials.

The EarthWorks program teaches Pre-K through 5th grade kids about sustainability and recycling. The program builds students’ understanding of how sustainable habits contribute to a healthy home, family and planet.

“EarthWorks was originally part of the Exchange City program” explained Christina Cusimano, Director of Communications and Educational Outreach. “But with the help of our KCP&L Microgrant, we’ve expanded it into a full-day mobile program. And the kids who attend take that knowledge home, which creates a domino learning effect. 

“It’s easy to underestimate the impact of recycling,” she continued. “For example, our organization recycles more than 50 pounds a day. Multiply that by all the homes and business across our region, and you glimpse just how important it is.”

“With the help of our KCP&L Microgrant, we expect to have 7,000 kids attend the EarthWorks program in 2016,” she added, “and even more in 2017.”

Learn more about Exchange City & EarthWorks.