July 24, 2019

Kansas adult education expands workforce partnerships

(Topeka, Kan.) - The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) has received a grant for $463,500 from Walmart to develop customized training programs branded as Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas @ Work (AO-K @ Work). These programs, which are delivered in partnership with retail and service-sector employers, focus on employer and employee needs, providing engaging staff development, and retaining a more skilled workforce.

The following adult education providers and businesses are currently participating with the anticipation of additional projects in the future:

  • Butler Community College Adult Education – Thai Binh and Thai An Supermarkets
  • Dodge City Community College Adult Education– Boot Hill Casino, United Wireless Arena
  • Paola USD 368 Adult Education– Circle C Café, Miami County Auto, Paola Inn and Suites
  • Washburn Institute of Technology Adult Education – Topeka Capitol Plaza Hotel, Ramada Inn.

“We believe that it’s important for all people to thrive at work,” said Joshua Frazier-Sparks, senior manager for “Supporting Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas @ Work and ensuring people gain the language skills they need to be successful is pivotal.”

AO-K @ Work is similar to a program in Kansas that has proven successful for another Arkansas company, Tyson Foods Upward Academy.

Tyson Foods has six locations and more than 5,000 team members throughout Kansas. The company’s front-line team members often face language and cultural barriers, along with varying skill levels and limited access to social resources, creating challenges at home and work. These personal challenges create workplace instabilities that impact attendance, employee turnover, career pathway movements, and workplace safety. Working with KBOR adult education staff and the Tyson team, Kansas Adult Education programs have begun launching Tyson’s Upward Academy, a workforce education program established in 2016. Upward Academy provides free and accessible classes in English Language Acquisition, High School Equivalency, U.S. Citizenship and other essential life and workplace skills such as digital and financial literacy.

“Helping our team members succeed is not only the right thing to do but by educating and investing in our people, we encourage them to stay with us for the long-term,” said Kevin Scherer, senior manager, employee social responsibility, Tyson Foods.

Upward Academy classes take place on-site at the Tyson plants, providing team members the opportunity to learn in a familiar atmosphere with few obstacles around transportation, childcare, and scheduling conflicts.

The following adult education providers have launched or will be launching Upward Academy:

  • Hutchinson Community College Adult Education – Hutchinson & South Hutchinson plants – July 2019
  • Garden City Career Connections Academy - Finney County plant – August 2019
  • Olathe, Kansas City, Kansas, and Emporia plants coming in 2019

Kansas Board of Regents Adult Education looks forward to expanding partnerships with Kansas employers to provide the essential training and educational services needed to upskill and retain incumbent workers. For more information about how Adult Education can assist your business and employees contact Lisa Beck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About the Kansas Board of Regents:
The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state’s six universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, nineteen community colleges, and six technical colleges). In addition, the Board administers the state’s student financial aid, adult education, high school equivalency, and career and technical education programs. Private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions are authorized by the Kansas Board of Regents to operate in Kansas.