Urban Neighborhood Initiative Presents First-Ever H&R Block Neighborhood Champion Award

October 26, 2022 : H&R Block

H&R Block has partnered with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) for three years to host community-building events that foster neighborly relationships between residents, connects citizens to helpful resources, and makes home repairs possible throughout a historically disinvested and underserved area in the heart of Kansas City. UNI recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a recess-themed gala. H&R Block was the presenting sponsor for the evening’s awards and helped honor several community leaders who help carry out UNI’s mission.

Each year, H&R Block tax professionals have nearly 12 million hours of conversations with clients, talking about important life events. From a new job to a new baby, retirement or a death in the family, tax filers share with H&R Block associates the most important and biggest moments of their lives. A company rooted in community, we bring our Purpose to life through the relationships we build with clients and communities, every day. The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is one of H&R Block’s key Make Every Block Better community partners.

“H&R Block partners with UNI because we believe if we can help neighbors connect, then we can reduce loneliness and isolation,” said Angela Davied, VP Corporate Communications. “We know that connected neighbors are the cornerstone of vibrant communities.”

That’s why H&R Block was honored to be the presenting sponsor of the awards UNI presented this year.

Jen Houston, H&R Block Senior Manager of Community Impact (left) and Dr. Jamee Rodgers, President & CEO of UNI (right) present Karen Slaughter with the inaugural H&R Block Neighborhood Champion Award.

Key Coalition President Karen Slaughter was the inaugural recipient of the H&R Block Neighborhood Champion Award. Slaughter, a community builder and connector, is passionately committed to the redevelopment of Kansas City’s urban core. More than 15 years ago, she was voted in as the “temporary president” of the Key Coalition Neighborhood Association, one of the neighborhoods in the UNI district. She was supposed to serve just one year. Fast forward 16 years and the neighborhood association cannot imagine their community without her leadership. In addition to serving on the boards of and volunteering with several nonprofits committed to mentoring young men, Slaughter used public engagement to build a partnership between the community and the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department that resulted in $1.2 million in amenities being added to an area park.

Other community leaders honored at UNI’s Gala included:

  • Jeanene Dunn, Beacon Hill
  • Linda Brown, Blue Hills
  • Esther Kershaw, Boston Heights & Mount Hope
  • Peter Hughes, Center City
  • Karen Boyd, Ivanhoe
  • Alana Parish, Manheim Park
  • Jonathan Bish, Squier Park
  • Stuart Bullington, Troostwood
  • John James, Wendell Phillips

“We are incredibly grateful for the support from the community over the last 10 years, and the support shown at the Recess! Gala is a testament to their dedication as we head into our second decade,” said Dr. Jamee Rodgers, UNI President & CEO. “Every dollar raised makes a difference for those living in underserved communities in the heart of Kansas City.”

The Gala raised more than $200,000 to support UNI’s work in Kansas City’s urban core. Rodgers announced that UNI plans to bring more than 600 units of quality mixed income housing to the heart of Kansas City — with a total investment of more than $182 million to the urban core. Additionally, UNI expects to close on the former Kansas City Neighborhood Academy school building in January and plans to transform it into a community-focused space called The LAB, where youth can experience hands-on STEAM E2-based learning.

Just before the awards portion of the evening came to a close, Dr. Rodgers surprised H&R Block staff with a final award when he presented H&R Block with the UNI’s first-ever Champion of Hope Award.

“We are intentional in our choice to call the urban core of Kansas City the heart of the city and that’s why we’re giving an award in this shape,” said Dr. Rodgers. “Because of the love and support H&R Block continues to show our communities we’re excited to award UNI’s first-ever Champion of Hope Award to a partner and a true champion for our communities.”

We look forward to continuing to build communities with purpose, on purpose and together helping to make every block better.


The green H&R Block square with dark grey "H&R Block" text to the right

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