For the Chiefs October 28, 2018, game against the Denver Broncos, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected Marilyn Alstrom, Founder and Executive Director of 20/20 Leadership, as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Alstrom received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Tony Reed before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
"By nature, I like to hide in the crowd, and this is very humbling," said Alstrom, who will retire in 2019 after establishing 20/20 Leadership 25 years ago. "Co-founding and building 20/20 Leadership opened the door to relationships that have enriched my life. Thank you to Blue KC and the Chiefs."
With a vision to help students develop into strong, capable leaders, Alstrom established 20/20 Leadership in 1993 as a nine-month program for 36 juniors attending nine high schools in Wyandotte County, Kansas. In 2003, 20/20 Leadership became an independent organization, six weeks after filing the 501(c)(3) application and expanded into a 10-month program for juniors and an eight-month program for seniors. In 2015, Alstrom expanded the programs to provide a continuum for freshmen, sophomore, juniors and seniors.
"Through 20/20 Leadership, Marilyn Alstrom has been cultivating a stronger Kansas City for 25 years," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "With her vision to help students gain hands-on experience in the community, they are developing a passion to make a difference in the world around them once they are finished formal education. We're proud to honor Marilyn as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion."
Through the program, students participate in a variety of hands-on projects in a curriculum that includes personal development, college preparation, career exploration, understanding the law, economics, government and more. Examples include meeting with state lawmakers, completing community-benefiting projects and visiting social service agencies to discover needs in their local areas. And the results have been nothing short of fantastic, as students have been shown to be more likely to stay in high school and to pursue post-secondary education and training after participating in the 20/20 Leadership program.
"Teenagers are hungry to learn, and opening doors to future careers, to the legislative process, and to their community, is very rewarding," said Alstrom. "But the most rewarding part of 20/20 is building relationships with the 3,500 program alumni and being there for them as they continue their education, mature, and experience life challenges. Alumni range from doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, teachers, police officers, fire fighters and more."
While Alstrom remains humble about her sizable influence on youth in the Kansas City area, program alums are quick to speak up about her impact.
"Marilyn has made many sacrifices in her personal life to see 20/20 Leadership develop and thrive. She has provided scholarships to students from her own pocket, driven students home across the city after program days, clocking thousands of miles on her car," said Crystal Everett, who went through the program as a high school student in 2004 and now serves as Program Director for 20/20 Leadership. "Her vision for providing experiential learning opportunities for high school students in unmatched."
To nominate a local hero like Marilyn Alstrom to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.