Using a design thinking approach to engage the youth of the region in the Academy’s planning and program development process, the Center helped Academy leaders develop programming that would be highly responsive to the goals and needs of the urban youth whom the Academy was developed to serve. The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy (KCUYA) was launched by the Kansas City Royals in 2018. The Academy is a non-profit organization with the mission to empower Kansas City's underserved youth ages 6-18 through baseball and softball, academic and social opportunities to be the leaders of tomorrow. The vision for the Academy is to become the epicenter for youth baseball and softball throughout the Midwest, beginning with the urban community and its location in the backyard of the historical 18
& Vine District. KCUYA runs baseball leagues, softball leagues, and instructional and after school programs for the youth of the region, especially the youth living within the boundaries Kansas City Public School District. To build the nonprofit operation KCUYA worked with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership to develop governance, strategy and programming that benefits the youth of the urban core of Kansas City. The MCNL employed design thinking approaches to facilitate a strategic orientation grounded in the goals of urban youth. More than 200 youth were interviewed, to assess program needs. Once program prototypes were developed, another 300 elementary school youth were brought to the academy to test the programs. After one year of operation, KCUYA is making a lasting impact on Kansas City and its youth thanks in part to their deliberate development approach.