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Kim Riley, Founder and Executive Director of The Transition Academy, is making a difference in the lives and futures of high school youth with disabilities. When it was time for Kim and her son – who meets the requirements for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) – to make a plan for life beyond high school, Riley found herself in a quagmire. High school counselors were not equipped to guide this particular group of students, so she created a solution.

In 2019, Riley founded The Transition Academy, a program that helps mostly African American high school students with disabilities navigate their options and create a path forward beyond graduation. Riley convened families, teachers, counselors, employers, universities/colleges and social security benefits advisors to create a comprehensive program and resource hub for this underserved group of youth and their families. As the demand for Riley’s programs and services grows, Byrne Pelofsky has been called upon to help The Transition Academy with capacity building and organizational growth efforts through increased fundraising.

The Transition Academy hosts the annual DiversAbility College and Career Fair, which provides students with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with college professionals, job recruiters, social security benefits professionals and others to make a plan for life after high school. The next DiverseAbility Career Fair will take place on April 6 at Penn Valley College and will host over 400 attendees. The launch of the college and career fair led Riley to form the KC DiversAbility Collective, which convenes representatives from The Full Employment Council, The Whole Person, Children’s Mercy Hospital and other providers to work together on common goals and solutions for this population of talent.

The Transition Academy also works with area public schools to provide targeted coursework that helps students explore vocational interests and coordinate college visits. The organization also provides schools with targeted resources for families helping their child transition out of high school and into adulthood. Riley has also built a robust website with a clearing house of resources and has hosted a webinar called “Out of the Shadows: Black Families with Autism Speak Out.”

The Health Forward Foundation recently funded The Transition Academy with a $69,000 grant to continue this important work. The organization’s work has received support from the UMKC Institute for Human Development, Children’s Mercy and several other funders. Byrne Pelofsky is proud to work with The Transition Academy to ensure that this underserved and untapped group of individuals are able to secure a stable, productive future and achieve economic independence.

For more information on Byrne Pelofsky’s capacity building and grant writing services, get in touch with us at or at 816.237.1999. 

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