The Kansas City Council approved a plan Thursday to convert a vacant city building at 5825 Troost Ave. into a dog grooming school.
The goal is to train parents who have been homeless or living beneath the poverty level and give them a shot at a good-paying, in-demand job.
The council supported spending $100,000 in city funds to fix up the 2,000-square-foot building for the school.
The program is the brainchild of Natasha Kirsch, executive director of EPEC Inc., short for Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child. Kirsch told the council’s Finance Committee on Wednesday that professional dog groomers make an average of $19 per hour and are in demand in the Kansas City area. She said the closest such school is three hours away.
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Kirsch intends to partner with organizations such as Operation Breakthrough, Sheffield Place and the Rose Brooks Center to identify nine students for each six-month comprehensive course, beginning in January. A master groomer will teach the course, and life skills training will also be provided.
Kirsch said she wants to limit enrollment to 18 students per year to not saturate the market.
In addition to the $100,000 from the city, Kirsch has raised $120,000 for building improvements and continues to raise funds to cover student fees and administrative costs.
City Architect Eric Bosch said City Manager Troy Schulte liked the concept and thought it was a good use of budgeted city money to put an unused city building back into productive use. JE Dunn will do the improvements, which should take about two months to complete.
EPEC will have a 10-year lease to use the building and will be responsible for utilities and insurance.