Governor forges business-education alliance

Owner-operators of McDonald's restaurants in Kansas pledge $100,000 for Kansas Youth Leadership Academy

1/12/05 ks

TOPEKA, KS -- Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced this morning that the owner-operators of the 148 McDonald's restaurants in Kansas will join in a partnership with the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy to educate the state's future leaders.

" The McDonald's Restaurant owner-operators will donate $100,000 over a two-year period," Gov. Sebelius said. "This will make it possible for young Kansans to learn about leadership and develop the tools necessary to become effective citizen leaders. Aside from the obvious benefit of this gift for the future of our state, I'm also optimistic their generosity can serve as the model for other partnerships between business and education."

The KYLA is based at Fort Hays State University's Center for Civic Leadership but conducts seminars and camps at various sites so that middle-school and high-school students throughout the state can participate. It was founded in June 2004 with a $50,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, but new sources of funding were needed to continue and expand the program. Gov. Sebelius asked the McDonald's owner-operators to help, and the answer was yes.

" The opportunity to contribute to young people's development in the areas of character, leadership and civic involvement was an invitation we couldn't pass up," said Lee Renz, vice president, general manager of McDonald?s Corporation Heartland Region. "We are privileged to be asked and proudly accept this partnership in a statewide youth leadership development initiative."

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, was the moderator for today's news conference to announce the new partnership. "I also want to thank the governor for her leadership and assistance in building this partnership in support of the KYLA," he said.

Gail Kuehl, who owns and operates the McDonald's restaurants in Hays, WaKeeney and Russell with her husband, Rick, explained why her group was willing to answer the governor's request. "Community leadership and responsibility are inherent to McDonald's heritage and values," she said. "The cornerstone of the McDonald's system's approach to philanthropy is to make a difference in the lives of children. We accomplish this through the dedication and commitment of the 48 owner-operators of the 148 McDonald's Restaurants across the state of Kansas. I have had the privilege of being involved with KYLA since its inception. They are doing such important work in the development of our future leaders. It has been very rewarding to see the growth in these kids as they begin their journeys of personal development."

Kuehl said that as far she knew, this was the first time the family of McDonald's Restaurants in Kansas had joined together unanimously on a single project.

" We look forward to being the cornerstone in the project as we all move forward together toward a brighter future which will be created by these exceptional young people," she said.

Dr. Curt Brungardt, director of FHSU's Center for Civic Leadership, said the $100,000 partnership with the McDonald's restaurants of Kansas was vital to the future of KYLA. "This contribution makes it possible to fulfill the KYLA mission of encouraging young Kansans to, first, live safe and healthy lives with strong character and, second, be active community members who serve as lifelong citizen leaders," he said.

" I thank the generous McDonald's owner-operators not only for the $100,000 gift but for their support of KYLA," President Hammond said. "This partnership will be an ongoing benefit to all Kansans."

The KYLA program is divided into four main components: academy seminars, resident camps and conferences, specialized programs, and teacher preparation.

The academy seminars, the first step in the civic leadership process, are presented yearly to middle-school and high-school students at different college-level institutions. During each seminar, students are introduced to the basic principles of civic leadership through discussion and activities. At the conclusion of the seminar, students will return to their schools with a leadership plan developed to implement the theories they have learned.

Seminars were conducted Sept. 27 at FHSU in Hays, Oct. 14 at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, and Nov. 11 at the Kaw Area Technical School in Topeka. The themes KYLA focuses on for 2004-2005 are integrity, team dynamics, effective communication, leadership concepts (the skills and concepts needed to make a good leader), diversity appreciation, and citizenship.

Specialized Programs, another component of KYLA, are designed to provide a statewide public outreach for school districts and other organizations. KYLA Director Kara Moore and Certified Leadership Trainers from KYLA travel from school to school assisting sixth- through 12th-graders with leadership development. After a brief interview with interested students about their goals and expectations for the training, the staff of KYLA tailors a program specifically for that school or organization. These instructed students then assume leadership roles and disseminate the information to their school systems to help the schools develop individual and unique leadership programs.

The next component, resident camps and conferences, was first implemented four years ago by the Center for Civic Leadership at FHSU. During each summer session, an in-depth understanding of leadership is introduced to middle-school and high-school students through daily leadership activities.

The final component, teacher preparation, will instill leadership programs into the school systems for academic use and will ensure that teachers receive adequate instruction to teach the programs.

For more information about the academy or to become involved in KYLA, visit or call (785) 628-5399.

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