Who We Are

About Upper Room KC

For over 25 years, Upper Room KC has been supporting urban core neighborhoods by developing and administering educational programs for youth.

Established in 1997 in the upper room above a Catholic church on Swope Parkway, Upper Room KC operated its first learning center in response to our community’s needs. The organization was formed to raise $1.5M to renovate the space, which had been in disrepair since the 1960s, and has been home to thousands of students and volunteers ever since.

Thanks in part to the state of Missouri and local education agencies, our state-accredited programs are free or low-cost for KCMO families and offer developmentally-appropriate curriculum that meet our students where they are.


Our mission is to close the educational gap in KCMO by making quality educational programs accessible, providing resources to families, and supporting our underserved communities from cradle to college.


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 1960s. 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.

child on playground


Tonia Gilbert

Dr. Tonia Gilbert

Executive Director
816-363-3819 x100

Robin Winfrey

Robin Winfrey

Human Resources & Compliance Officer
816-363-3819 x103

Kesha Williams

Kesha Williams

Administrative Officer
816-363-3819 x105

Greg Stegall

Greg Stegall

Summer School Program Coordinator
816-363-3819 x101


Lynne Beaver, Chair (year joined, 2004)
Paul Tancredi, Secretary (year joined, 2013)
Ken Hager, Treasurer (year joined, 2014)


Kevin Fitzpatrick, Director – Investor/Community Volunteer
Rev. Kirk Perucca, Director – Retiree, Covenant Presbyterian Church
Anthony Springfield, Director – Shareholder with Polsinelli Law Firm
Jim Echols, Director – CEO, Renaissance Solutions LLP

  • Join Our Team

    New career opportunities are now available. Join our team of talented educational professionals.

  • Keep in Touch

    Get the latest news and updates from Upper Room KC delivered directly to your inbox.

  • Skip to content