On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation and its ally Belarus launched an unprovoked invasion of the
sovereign country of Ukraine. This significant escalation follows roughly eight years of armed conflict between
Ukraine and Russia (and its proxies) which was relatively isolated to the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Those
eight years resulted in over 14,000 dead in Ukraine and an estimated 1.5 million displaced from their homes.
Russia’s latest escalation opens a new, bloody chapter of this saga, which now impacts the entire county of
Ukraine. There is no clear picture of the number of casualties – military or civilian – on either side, but estimates
are already above 10,000. What is clearer is the number of Ukrainians forced to flee to safety in neighboring
countries. One month after this second, larger invasion was launched, over 4 million Ukrainians have fled the
country according to UNHCR1
Prior to February 2022, the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City existed as a loosely connected group of Ukrainians,
Ukrainian-Americans, and others interested in and associated with the country which gathered for various cultural
events throughout the year. It was little more than a social/cultural club, hosting picnics, recitals, concerts, and
other similar events. The events of February 2022 brought new attention to the Club from the media and local
concerned nonprofit groups, businesses, and citizens eager to learn more about how to help Ukraine during the
crisis. In response, members of the Ukrainian Club established Stand With Ukraine KC, a nonprofit organization
with 501(c)3 status as of March 2022.
In this early, emergency phase of the crisis, Stand With Ukraine KC (SWU-KC) will draw on its extensive network of contacts still in Ukraine to rapidly establish partnerships with nonprofit and/or faith-based groups providing humanitarian assistance to people in need, with special priority given to groups operating in hot zones and/or serving large groups of IDPs. SWU-KC will actively work throughout the Kansas City area to raise awareness and funds through events, speaking engagements, rallies, etc. to support this effort. Funds will be dispersed in the form of Rapid Response Grants of up to $10,000 to humanitarian groups in Ukraine able to demonstrate a track record of past success working in the sector. Interested partners will submit a simplified project proposal – _in Ukrainian, Russian, or English – _outlining their plans to utilize their grant funds. Activities should focus on providing direct humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations, but prospective partners will be empowered to set their own priorities. Some may focus on conducting evacuations; others may prioritize delivering food and drinking water to conflict-affected communities; still others may procure and deliver essential pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. While SWU-KC board members include humanitarian professionals that can support in an advisory capacity, the organization will rely heavily upon the assessed needs and plans provided by its trusted partners.
SWU-KC believes in the benefits associated with providing cash assistance – _both to organizations and individuals. Grants to trusted implementing partners will give them flexibility to set and adapt their own priorities as the crisis evolves. SWU-KC will also encourage aid to be delivered to individuals/families in the form of cash grants, also to give them the flexibility to address their most pressing needs for their individual families. Where possible, SWU-KC implementing partners will use existing cash remittance mechanisms, at banks and post offices, to transfer funds to beneficiaries. When this is not safe or feasible, other modalities for providing assistance will be encouraged
In addition to the urgent needs of Ukrainians unable or unwilling to leave the country, there is a growing expectation that large numbers of Ukrainian refugees will be resettled in the United States, including Kansas City, which has shown a willingness to welcome refugees in the past (most recently, following the sudden Afghan evacuation). On March 24, 2022, President Biden announced that the United States will take on 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in the coming months. While this number seems low compared to the total number of refugees already, it is not insignificant in the American context, which was already prepared to take on 125,000 refugees from other global conflicts. Another way to look at that number is to consider that the Afghan evacuation – which received significant attention and support from the American public – only included some 70,000 refugees that needed to be resettled. The Kansas City area welcomed nearly a thousand Afghans during this effort, and they have been resettled primarily with the help of three local refugee support agencies11. Each of these agencies had to rapidly mobilize volunteers to meet this challenge; and it is expected that a similar mobilization may be needed to support a new Ukrainian refugee program.
SWU-KC is not a refugee resettlement agency and will not seek to become one in the near future. It can, however, organize teams of volunteers to support Ukrainian families that are resettled to the Kansas City area in collaboration with local organizations identified by the US Government to facilitate the process locally. Many members and volunteers from SWU-KC are Ukrainian immigrants themselves, and this experience and these connections will be invaluable to new families arriving in the United States. SWU-KC will also use its network to raise funds to supplement government stipends paid to refugees, which are already quite low (up to $1500 per person). More details on this effort will be provided in the future.
SWU-KC is in a unique position to tell Ukraine’s story to an American public eager to learn more about the crisis and how they can help. The Ukrainian Club of Kansas City launched this effort through local rallies, media engagement, and speaking events. SWU-KC will continue this effort with its leadership group and its team of volunteers. Events such as a fashion show and a benefit concert are already planned for April 2022. SWU-KC will also organize teams of speakers that can visit public forums and provide some vital context to what is unfolding in Ukraine, answer questions, and make recommendations on how the public can help. SWU-KC will also use these events as an opportunity to highlight its own work in Ukraine and Kansas City, and that of its implementing partners. It is hoped that these community engagement activities will support SWU-KC’s overall fundraising efforts as well.
Stand with Ukraine KC, in collaboration with the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), is proud to offer a special grant program designed to provide academic assistance for Ukrainian Students (and their families, where applicable) to come to the United States with a goal of attending UMKC as a new or continuing undergraduate or graduate student.
The scholarship program is designed to offer a one-time grant to UMKC, which will select a qualified/eligible individual based on their academic merit and demonstrated humanitarian needs to attend the university starting the Spring 2023 semester. The program will cover tuition and fees and a reasonable allowance for room, board, and insurance as needed for the first year. The scholarship may be renewed for subsequent year(s) pending the availability of funds. The scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for undergraduate or graduate Ukrainian students who are seriously impacted and/or displaced by the Russian invasion and meet admission criteria based on their academic merit as determined by the UMKC admission committee. Other academic scholars may be supported on a case-by-case basis, pending the availability of funds.
UMKC is a fully accredited public university in the Kansas City area. The UMKC enrolls more than 16,000 students annually, with 1,400 international students attending from 85+ countries around the world. UMKC offers concentration in more than 125 academic areas, giving its students multiple opportunities to explore on their way to discovering and creating their perfect careers. UMKC is Kansas City’s only NCAA Division I university, and with an average Faculty-student ratio: 1:14, it offers a perfect class size to receive unlimited access to quality education. For more information about UMKC please visit: www.umkc.edu