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Fundraising for Hospital Hill Project Gets $30M Boost from Sunderland Foundation

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2 minute read

A planned new teaching facility for UMKC medical and dental students on Hospital Hill has taken a big stride forward with a $30 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

The donation for the $120 million project was announced last week at an event attended by Gov. Mike Parson. Earlier this year, the state approved $40 million for the planned Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building.

The multi-story facility is intended house new dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities, according to a release from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In addition, it will provide space for the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new Biomedical Engineering program.

“We are grateful to the Sunderland Foundation for their investment in taking the Health Sciences District to the next level, spearheading an academic medical center with extraordinary community benefits,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said in a statement.

“We believe our new building will escalate momentum to exponentially expand the Health Sciences District in coming years to become the major regional academic medical center that we know it can be.”

Gov. Mike Parson was at a recent event announcing the $30 million Sunderland Foundation gift. Seated next to him is UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal (left) and Randy Vance, president and CEO of the Sunderland Foundation. (Photo courtesy UMKC)

The Sunderland gift pushes the project significantly closer to its goal of raising $80 million in private donations to allow its construction.

In recent years, the Sunderland Foundation has become a major force in Kansas City area philanthropy. The foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, president of Ash Grove Cement Co. and continued by his sons, Paul and Allen.

The foundation assets were comprised primarily of shareholdings in the cement company which was led by four generations of the Sunderland family until 2018, according to the foundation website. It was sold that year to CRH plc of Dublin, Ireland for $3.5 billion.

Over the past few years, the foundation, which focuses on bricks-and-mortar projects, has made substantial contributions including $75 million for the Children’s Research Institute; $5 million to Union Station, and $2 million to The Folly theater.

“The Sunderland Foundation is proud to give to UMKC’s efforts to transform the Health Science District,” Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation, said in a statement.

“The cutting-edge facilities will provide innovative training opportunities for tomorrow’s doctors, dentists and healthcare leaders who will improve prosperity in our neighborhoods, cities and state.”

The new building is expected to create opportunities for increased collaboration among UMKC and its health district partners including University Health and Children’s Mercy, according to the release.

The Sunderland Foundation donated $75 million to help build the Children’s Mercy Research Institute tower that opened in 2020.

Over the past decade, the Hospital Hill area has been a major economic driver in greater downtown. More than 16,000 people now work or study in the Hospital Hill area, and it’s triggered more than $550 million in new construction.

That figure includes more than $234 million invested by private developers building new apartments and commercial projects on the surrounding blocks along Troost, the East Crossroads and near Crown Center.

Many of the residents and customers for those hundreds of new apartments and new businesses work or study at Hospital Hill.

According to UMKC, the new biomedical engineering program to be housed at the building is expected to boost economic development.

“This new building will foster faster, more effective collaboration between engineers and medical professionals to accelerate product development in areas such as imaging technology, implants and microsurgery tools,” according to the release.

“UMKC will expand its ability for creating new technology, generating innovations for products and patents with the potential to work with companies to develop and produce them.”

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