5829 Troost Ave., Suite B
Kansas City MO 64110
Job Training in the Art of Pet Grooming
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 214-5376
Mission Statement
Official Mission Statement: Empowering families to become self-reliant through job training, life skills and practical solutions to end their cycle of poverty.
Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child (EPEC) aims to stabilize the lives of single-parent families through our innovative vocational education program, The Grooming Project, which trains impoverished adults in the high-demand, high-pay trade of pet grooming. By combining job training with comprehensive support services, such as parenting, life-skills and budgeting classes, we empower our students to become financially stable, engaged parents who quickly become able to support their families without the aid of assistance programs.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Natasha Kirsch
Board Chair Mr. Eric Bosch
Board Chair Company Affiliation
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2014
Former Names
Empowering The Parent to Empower The Child
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer Please donate online at www.thegroomingproject.org or mail a check to The Grooming Project, 5829 Troost Ave., Suite B, KCMO 64110
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

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

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Official Mission Statement: Empowering families to become self-reliant through job training, life skills and practical solutions to end their cycle of poverty.
Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child (EPEC) aims to stabilize the lives of single-parent families through our innovative vocational education program, The Grooming Project, which trains impoverished adults in the high-demand, high-pay trade of pet grooming. By combining job training with comprehensive support services, such as parenting, life-skills and budgeting classes, we empower our students to become financially stable, engaged parents who quickly become able to support their families without the aid of assistance programs.
Background Statement
EPEC believes that financial stability is the first and most energizing step toward lifting single-parent families out of poverty into more stable and intentional lives. Students accepted into The Grooming Project, all suffering from trauma and homelessness, are given a clear pathway out of poverty through training in the art of pet grooming. We supplement our job training with much needed support services to address students’ unique histories, circumstances, and needs. Our six-month, 644 hour skill training program, which concludes with passing the Grooming Certification Test, is supplemented with training in soft skills (e.g., self-motivation, parenting, interpersonal relations, customer service), case management (e.g., housing, childcare, mental health and medical needs), and job placement services as they reach the end of their training period.
Graduates of our training program then take part in our Bridge Program, which has recently been expanded to 18 months in length. This part of our program provides family case management, emergency financial assistance, weekly meetings with a job coach to help graduates through any difficulties they face in their new positions, and budgeting assistance as they learn to manage bills and a living-wage salary. Our cumulative six-month training and 18-month Bridge programs give students the skills and experience they need to break the cycle of poverty and change their children's futures quickly, moving from homelessness to self-sufficiency in under two years.
In three short years 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
In 2013 Natasha Kirsch's concept for The Grooming Project won the Levitt Challenge Change Maker Award.
EPEC secured $100,000 of City of Kansas City, MO funding toward renovations of a vacant garage on Troost Avenue 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 won the Spirit of KC Gillis Award, NexGen Leaders Award, and was a top five finalist in a national entrepreneurship award. Most recently, we were awarded the 2017 Economic Development Council Cornerstone Award for Innovation.
  • As of Fall 2019, we have graduated 45 students with 98% job placement rate. 
  • 72% of 2018 graduates had retained employment after 6 months, earning an average starting salary of $30,000 a year. Their salaries will significantly grow in the next two years as they hone 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 public assistance.
  • 60% of our 2017 have already moved off of public assistance programs, and we believe 75% of all of our graduates will reach this goal within two years of graduating our program.

Top Goals for 2019:
  • Graduate 20-25 mother's from our school with 100% job placement
  • Launch a grooming salon incubator to train our graduates on starting and running their own businesses
  • Raise $400,000 at our annual fundraiser to get ahead of our budget by six months for 2019
Needs Statement
Funding is our most pressing need. It costs $50,000 a month to operate The Grooming Project. The majority of our expenses are instructor salaries and student stipends.
Volunteers are greatly needed to mentor our students and assist them with budgeting and in making the transition to their new career.
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.
Service Categories
Job Training
Family Services
Job Training
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
Geographic Area Served Narrative 90% of our students come from Jackson County, MO. 10% come from Cass County, MO, Wyandotte County, KS and Johnson County, KS. 
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
Our mission is to break the cycle of generational poverty through a two-generation approach. We must work through the parent to reach the child. So far we have experienced incredible success. Each family is paired with dentists, eye doctors, therapy, mental health, housing, childcare, transportation all within the first two months of our training program.  We go "all in" to do what it takes to break the cycle. Everyone benefits when mom has a job and can support her family. 
The Grooming Project trains parents for the in-demand, living-wage trade of dog grooming. We integrate several support services, such as help with childcare, housing, and transportation needs to help students transcend barriers to joining the workforce. 
By way of a comprehensive and multi-generational approach, EPEC empowers parents to become self-sufficient without the need for government assistance. Our approach is threefold. 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
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
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 and her daughter attends school daily. We assisted Danielle with 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 now 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 our program but is now starting to plan for the future even if it is just paying rent next month. 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 of many to arise out of our program. 
We have maintained a 100% employment rate for graduates since opening The Grooming Project in 2016. Many graduates receive multiple job offers before graduating. Over 80% of our graduates maintain employment long-term. 62% of 2017 graduates were able to move off of government assistance within six months. 
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, and break the cycle of generational poverty that plagued their parents and grandparents. 
Program Success Monitored By
An important measure of student success is job placement. If a client graduates and cannot find a job, we are failing the student. We expect a 100% job placement rate for all EPEC graduates. We gather data to measure program performance and impact by surveying participating salons on work and professionalism satisfaction of EPEC students. Our Executive Director follows up with salons to monitor student progress in the work environment and encourages the salons to communicate concerns as needed.
The second measurement of success is our students’ abilities to balance work and family life. Because our students all have a history of trauma and many suffer from PTSD, life skills programming is just as important as the grooming school. By combining these services, we take a holistic approach to helping our families. 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 our 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 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.”
  • “Being here, we have a support system. Some of us have become each other’s support system….that you can make it through anything.” 
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Natasha Kirsch
Term Start May 2015
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.
Senior Staff
Title Director of Grooming
Experience/Biography 40+ years as a professional groomer and instructor
Paid Full-Time Staff 9
Paid Part-Time Staff 3
Paid Contractors 3
Volunteers 60
Retention Rate 100%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 1
Caucasian 11
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 12
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Operation Breakthrough
KCMO Public Schools 
KC Works Together
Kansas Works Partnership
Truman Mental Health
Community Linc
Hope House
Sheffield Place
Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship ChallengeUMKC Bloch School2013
Spirit of KC AwardsGillis2016
NexGen Leaders AwardKC Business Journal2016
Innovation AwardEconomic Development Council2017
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? Yes
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Eric Bosch
Term Jan 2016 to Jan 2019
Email ericpbosch@gmail.com
Board Members
Mr. Eric BoschCity of Kansas City, MO
Mr. Jason BuchananMcDowell, Smith, Rice, Buchanan
Mr. John CavalitiTwo Dogs and a Cat
Ms. Katy DoddLifeWise Renovations
Mr. Kevin FlatteryKLF Development Consulting
Mr. David FoglemanSprint
Ms. Terry GarbergCommunity Volunteer
Ms. Chelsea HodgesCerner
Ms. Susan McGeeCommerce Bank
Mrs. Kathy MillerHelzberg Diamonds
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 9
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 5
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 77%
Written Board Selection Criteria? No
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
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $1,206,720
Projected Expenses $1,230,665
Audit Documents
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2016: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990.
  • FY 2015: Financial data reported using the organization's internal financial documents.
  • Foundation/Corporation revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$100,000$0
Individual Contributions----$58,307
Investment Income, Net of Losses$0$0$0
Membership Dues$0--$0
Special Events$173,466$21,740$8,342
Revenue In-Kind$0--$5,600
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$269,343$173,443$15,266
Administration Expense$97,285$51,226$8,042
Fundraising Expense$20,913$15,870$9,637
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.261.555.34
Program Expense/Total Expenses70%72%46%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$408,127$280,850$0
Current Assets$204,647$54,665$0
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$30,944$3,620$0
Total Net Assets$377,183$277,230$0
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities6.6115.10--
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%--
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
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 Yes
Other Documents
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. Eric Bosch
Year of Incorporation 2014
Former Names
Empowering The Parent to Empower The Child