Urban Hero: Spotlight on Shanita McAfee-Bryant, The Prospect KC

Shanita McAfee-Bryant accepts her 2023 Urban Hero award during the annual awards ceremony. Pat Contreras, right, McCownGordon Construction, presented the award, along with Downtown Council President & CEO Bill Dietrich. The 2024 class of Urban Heroes will be recognized later this week at the DTC Annual Luncheon.

The Downtown Council has recognized more than 100 small businesses and individuals as Urban Heroes since 2005. Each is passionate about making the urban community a more vibrant place to live, work, and play throughout the 22 adjacent neighborhoods and districts of greater Downtown KC. 

As a lead-up to introducing the 2024 class of Urban Heroes this Friday, April 12, today’s story is part of a series that showcases last year’s award winners, including Shanita McAfee-Bryant.

Shanita McAfee-Bryant, Founder-Executive Director, The Prospect KC

Shanita McAfee-Bryant is serving social equality across all things food on a daily basis … right here in Downtown Kansas City.

“People’s ability to nourish themselves affects everything … from physical, emotional, and mental health,” said McAfee-Bryant, founder and executive director of The Prospect KC. “All of it intersects with eating and eating well.”

The Prospect KC was founded in 2019 by the award-winning professional chef, Kansas City native and community activist. She fell in love with cooking as a teen and went on to receive her professional culinary training at Johnson County Community College. Her journey has led Shanita to create and own a restaurant, as well as to compete on The Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

She describes her current business model as “a social enterprise supporting communities suffering from food apartheid. We focus on workforce development, nutritional literacy, and being a place where people can access healthy, nutritious, and affordable food.”

Shanita McAfee-Bryant leads students, part of the culinary training program at The Prospect KC’s kitchen and cafe, dubbed The Spot, in the 18th & Vine Jazz District. (Photo coutesy of The Prospect KC)

The nonprofit Prospect KC features a culinary training program that pays students during an 16-week on-site program and two-year externship. Students train at The Prospect KC’s kitchen and cafe, dubbed The Spot, in its 1,200-square-foot culinary space that opened last summer at 2010 Vine St. in the 18th & Vine Jazz District. 

The Spot features a café, coffee shop, and fresh grocery section. The healthy food is prepared by The Prospect KC students enrolled in the culinary training program. Visit TheProspectKC.org for hours and days of operation, and to learn more.

The training program offers career coaching and teaches conflict resolution, self-empowerment, personal budgeting, and other life skills. In addition students have access to a case manager, resource coordinator, and other services.

Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant joins students Blaise (left) and Tonisha to bask in the fruits of their labor. (Photo courtesy of The Prospect KC.)

The Prospect KC’s mission is to create lasting change through programs designed to address food access, nutrition education and culinary job training. The Prospect KC also provides comprehensive support services through a network of social service partnerships offering food assistance, housing, childcare, transportation, and job training.

“People’s ability to nourish themselves affects everything,” she said. “Programs like this, and people who are really focused on food access and health equity, will see a change in the community.”

Click here to learn more about Shanita McAfee-Bryant and her journey via the Downtown Council’s 2023 Urban Hero video profile.