EPEC Inc.
5829 Troost Ave.,, Suite B
Kansas City MO 64110
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 214-5376
Mission Statement
Empower parents to become self-sustaining citizens able to provide for themselves and care for their children through a parenting program, life skills and job training.
 
The Grooming Project is Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child’s first program. Single mothers from Rose Brooks, Operation Breakthrough and City Union Mission are being trained in pet grooming. Pet groomers earn an average of $19 an hour and can flex their schedule to the needs of their children. Professional pet groomers do not need to have a high school diploma and those with criminal records are accepted into the field if they are high performers. We believe that with critical partnerships of housing and childcare, our job and life skills training will be a success.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Natasha Kirsch
Board Chair Mr. Jason Buchanan
Board Chair Company Affiliation McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan PC
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2014
Former Names
Empowering The Parent to Empower The Child
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement
Empower parents to become self-sustaining citizens able to provide for themselves and care for their children through a parenting program, life skills and job training.
 
The Grooming Project is Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child’s first program. Single mothers from Rose Brooks, Operation Breakthrough and City Union Mission are being trained in pet grooming. Pet groomers earn an average of $19 an hour and can flex their schedule to the needs of their children. Professional pet groomers do not need to have a high school diploma and those with criminal records are accepted into the field if they are high performers. We believe that with critical partnerships of housing and childcare, our job and life skills training will be a success.
Background Statement

The Grooming Project is the first program of EPEC and teaches animal grooming, which our research reveals is in high demand in the Kansas City area. Groomers make an average of $50,000 per year. It is a profession in which individuals with many of the barriers to stable employment – including past addiction, criminal records and incomplete education – can thrive. Upon completion of the grooming program, student parents will be able to work in one of the area’s 200 pet salons or even start their own animal grooming business. 

The grooming school program provides 644 classroom hours in 23 weeks, taught by experienced instructors, and an internship in a commercial grooming salon. A simultaneous parenting program teaches students the importance of active parenting, higher education, budget management, nurturing skills and resources.

Each student has a volunteer mentor who meets weekly to help with household budgeting and parenting questions. Mentors are parents in the community who understand the hardship our students face and encourage success.

In 24 fast-paced months we have:
  • built a state-of-the-art grooming facility
  • created and refined a curriculum that works
  • built community partnerships to reach families in need
  • built a sustainable revenue stream from student grooming
  • Created a retail product line
  • built a strong brand and following
  • graduated 16 students, with 100% job placement

But that’s not all…

The by-products of this inspired project are nearly as exciting as the women we are helping:

  • The Grooming Project’s neighborhood benefits from a substantial financial and aesthetic investment, transforming a dilapidated abandoned garage into an active, freshly branded storefront with safe parking. (Thank you, J.E. Dunn & The City of Kansas City, MO!)
  • Dogs who have been neglected or abandoned benefit from free health-saving grooming, thanks to relationships with dog-loving organizations and neighbors. (Thank you Kansas City Spay & Neuter Clinic and Wayside Waifs.)
  • Pet owners who could not otherwise afford it are able to get professional bathing and grooming for their pets at our affordable student rates.

Impact Statement
The concept won the Levitt Challenge Change Maker Award in 2013 and the Gillis Spirit of KC award in 2016.
EPEC secured $100,000 of City funding towards renovations of a vacant garage on Troost and raised an additional $200,000 for renovations, equipment and the first three months of programming funds. 
  • In 2016, EPEC’s The Grooming Project opened its doors and we won the Spirit of KC Gillis Award, NexGen Leaders Award, and were a top five finalist in a national entrepreneurship award. Most recently, we were awarded the 2017 Economic Development Council Cornerstone Award for Innovation.
  • To date, we have graduated 15 students with 100% job placement. And will graduate 10 more in 2017.
  • 13 of the 15 graduates retained employment, earning an average of $35,000 a year with health benefits and a 401k package. Their salaries will significantly grow in the next two years as they hone in on their trade. These mothers are now home in the evenings with their children and we continue to work with them on budgeting as they are beginning to get off welfare for the first time.
Top Goals for 2017:
  • Graduate 20-25 mother's from our school with 100% job placement
  • Secure federal and state job training funds to pay half of the student tuition
  • Earn 30% of our revenue from our grooming services 
  • Launch a dog collar/leash retail line for added earned revenue
  • Expand our after care program to work with graduates weekly on budgeting and career mentorship
  • Raise $200,000 at our annual fundraiser to get ahead of our budget by six months for 2018
Needs Statement
  • Funding is our most pressing need. It costs $30,000 a month to operate The Grooming Project. The majority of our expenses are instructor salaries and student stipends. 
  • Volunteers are greatly needed. We have a small paid staff of three and are largely dependent on volunteers to help with marketing, student recruitment and family needs, fundraising and strategy. We currently have over 60 key volunteers that are critical in our success. 
  • Board diversity is important to us and we are looking for board members to represent the community. Our current board is very hands-on and brings a diverse skill set to the table that got us where we are today. The board is transitioning into a larger governance role and we are looking for new board members who have previous board experience, know the obstacles of the population we are serving, and are willing to take on leadership positions.
  • We need lunches for the students as most of them are living in shelters and have limited food that they save for their children.
  • We need more student mentors from the community to support moms in our program. 
Service Categories
Job Training
Family Services
Job Training
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
Jackson County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
Funding a start-up nonprofit, with no track record, has been our biggest challenge. It took $500,000 to renovate our school and pay for programming for the first year. Selling a concept when there are thousands of other proven nonprofits competing for the same pot of money took years and a lot of rejection. The City of Kansas City granting us $100,000 towards renovations and $1 a month rent for ten years was one of our biggest successes to getting started. With the help of The City and JE Dunn (among others) we opened our doors. The next big challenge was proving success in our pilot program so there would be another class. All eyes were on the seven homeless moms that started our school and the pressure for them to succeed was greater than it will be for all classes to come. With largely volunteers and two paid staff members we did everything to stabilize these families from finding them childcare, housing to eye glasses (you cannot groom if you cannot see). Six of the seven graduated and three of the six are already completely off of welfare in less than a year. That was our next biggest success. Now we have graduated 3 different classes (15 students) all with 100% job placement. A major challenge as we started was just the "start-up" process itself. It was like driving a car down the highway as you are putting it together. We were constantly tweaking our program to fit the needs of our students and needed their help just as much as they needed ours. Because of that, a culture of community and support was started and is passed down from class to class. Our first class of students volunteer on their days off to help to mentor and support new students. They have built a community of support for themselves. That is this programs biggest success. Natasha Kirsch/founder
Programs
Description
The Grooming Project trains parents for in-demand living wage trades as it allies with childcare and housing resources to transcend barriers to joining the workforce. Dog grooming is the first job skill offered.
 
By way of a comprehensive and multigenerational approach, EPEC empowers parents to become self-sustaining, able to provide for their families. The approach is threefold. EPEC program students are given instruction in parenting, life skills, and job training. EPEC teaches high demand skills in a field that that typically pays $18 or more per hour, is family-flexible, and hires people without discrimination against criminal or educational history. Students receive team instruction as well as one-on-one instruction from individual mentors. Wrap-around services, like housing and childcare, are offered to help break the cycle of poverty.
Category Human Services, General/Other Family-Based Services
Population Served Families, ,
Short-Term Success When Danielle started our program she was homeless and her 8-year-old daughter was not in school. Now she rents a house with the student stipend she earns from The Grooming Project, her daughter attends school daily, we helped her get eyeglasses, grievance counseling for her son’s murder that occurred last October and we are helping her get her driver’s license. Danielle has become a better communicator and is seeks help from staff and fellow students. She says grooming dogs is calming for her and is a break from her problems. Danielle was very impulsive when she started but is starting to plan for the future even if it is just paying rent next month and how much she needs to save each week to make that happen. When she started the program she would spend her stipend within the first two days with no money left for food or housing. Danielle is just one story, we have five more with similar experiences.
Long-Term Success
The ultimate goal is that the children of our students will graduate high school, avoid teenage pregnancy, avoid incarceration and will go to college or a trade school. They will start a new cycle of prosperity for generations to come in their family.
Program Success Monitored By
An important measure of student success is job placement. If a client graduates, but cannot find a job, we would be failing the student. We expect a 100% job placement rate for EPEC graduates. We will gather data to measure program performance and impact by surveying participating salons on work and professionalism satisfaction of EPEC students. The Executive Director will follow up with salons to monitor student progress in the work environment and encourage the salons to communicate concerns as needed.
 
The second mode of measurement comes in after our students’ abilities to balance work and family life. Life skills programming is just as important as the grooming school. Both programs implemented correctly will together benefit the families we are serving. If parents are not employed and making a decent living, they will not be able to focus on their children and the lessons taught under the life skills programming.
 
EPEC is a new program that will be continually monitored and adjusted based on program evaluation and feedback, making each following cohort rotation more effective.
Examples of Program Success
A research and program evaluation PhD at UMKC did an interim focus group with our students half way through the program. Quotes from the students are below:
  • “Grooming helps me cope with stress …like when we were drying dogs, it’s a stress relief. When we are washing dogs, it’s a stress relief. It’s taking our minds off the outside world”.
  • “This is changing me because….like business-wise – say for instance if I do try to get my own business, it’s helping me learn how to do the system and it’s helping me deal with different personalities.”
  • “As far as [parenting] ….[we have] more structure now…..like more on a schedule….cause I be so tired and worn out…like…we gotta schedule this. If we don’t follow this we’ll be behind.”
  • “But being here and basically we have a support system. Some of us have become each other’s support system….that you can make it through anything.” [participants all nod in agreement]
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Natasha Kirsch
Term Start May 2015
Compensation $50,001 - $75,000
Experience
Natasha Kirsch believes in a two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. Basic needs for food and shelter must be met before a parent can focus on guiding children through school and out of poverty, so a living-wage, family-flexible career for the parent is key. Natasha’s idea earned support from the UMKC Bloch School’s Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2013.
 
Natasha has an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Iowa and an executive master’s degree in public administration from the UMKC Bloch School. She is passionate about working with single mothers with multiple barriers to entering the workforce, such as low reading skills or past incarceration and brings experience in both staff and volunteer roles for Healing House, Reach Out and Read, Community LINC and Stop Child Trafficking Now to the EPEC project.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Senior Staff
Title Grooming Director
Title Director of Grooming
Experience/Biography 40+ years as a professional groomer and instructor
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 3
Paid Part-Time Staff 2
Volunteers 60
Paid Contractors 1
Retention Rate 75%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 5
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 5
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Bi-Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Quarterly
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Collaborations
Operation Breakthrough, ReStart, KC Works Together, Kansas Works Partnership, Truman Mental Health, Community Linc, RoseBrooks, Hope House, Sheffield Place
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship ChallengeUMKC Bloch School2013
Spirit of KC AwardsGillis 2016
NexGen Leaders AwardKC Business Journal2016
Innovation AwardEconomic Development Council2017
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? Yes
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Jason Buchanan
Company Affiliation McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan PC
Term Aug 2015 to Aug 2017
Email jb@mcdowellrice.com
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Mr. Eric Bosch
Mr. Jason Buchanan McDowell, Smith, Rice, Buchanan
Ms. Joyce Buchanan KU Medical Center
Mr. Kevin Flattery KLF Development Consulting
Mr. David Fogleman
Mrs. Carol Getty
Mrs. Meredith Haulk
Ms. Chelsea Hodges Cerner
Mrs. Kathy Miller
Mrs. Marla Svoboda
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Board Development / Board Orientation
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Advisory Board / Advisory Council
Executive
Finance
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $500,000
Projected Expenses $400,000
Form 990s
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2015: Financial data reported using the organization's internal financial documents.
Detailed Financials
 
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$15,266----
Administration Expense$8,042----
Fundraising Expense$9,637----
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses5.34----
Program Expense/Total Expenses46%----
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue6%----
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$0----
Current Assets$0----
Long-Term Liabilities$0----
Current Liabilities$0----
Total Net Assets$0----
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets------
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount ------
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Name EPEC Inc.
Address 5829 Troost Ave.,, Suite B
Kansas City, MO 64110
Primary Phone (816) 214-5376
Contact Email nkirsch@epeckc.org
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Natasha Kirsch
Board Chair Mr. Jason Buchanan
Board Chair Company Affiliation McDowell Rice Smith & Buchanan PC
Year of Incorporation 2014
Former Names
Empowering The Parent to Empower The Child