top of page

McAdams Case for Support

Graduation photo of a boy and girl holding their diploma posing with Chuck Knowles.


Almost 70% of McAdams students have no emotional support at home.


54% of McAdams students have at least one parent in prison.


45% of McAdams students are exposed to substance abuse or are fearful of some other element of their home life.

McAdams Academy

Educating Society's Neglected Kids

The definition of neglect is "not receiving proper attention or care." Because of childhood poverty and substance abuse, hundreds of kids in our community are not receiving the care or attention needed to overcome the damaging effects of childhood trauma. These bright young people are often found in our foster care system, bouncing from placement to placement or receiving school expulsions. Traumatized children struggle with antisocial behavior and have emotional scars that prevent them from finding their place in society and reaching their full potential. Many parents of traumatized children have experienced trauma in their childhood. McAdams understands that educating children often involves educating whole families. Education should be a multifaceted experience that includes academics, behavior, and community. McAdams Academy has been educating high-risk students and their families since 2014.

Part 1:  The Need:  Educating Every Child

Imagine keeping a child from attending school for an entire school year. In Kansas, students can be removed from school for up to 186 days. During an expulsion period, students do not receive educational services. Children in the foster care system often lose access to educational opportunities as they move from placement to placement. Depending on school districts, foster kids can lose four to six months of academic progress each time they move to a new placement. Nationwide, only about half of the children in foster care graduate from high school. These vulnerable youth in our community miss vital educational and social opportunities and fall further behind than their peers each day they are not in school. 

Founder and Executive Director of McAdams Academy, Chuck Knowles, Ph.D. states, “Frightened and hurting children often turn into angry children and behave in unacceptable ways.” Most youth exhibiting unhealthy and disruptive behaviors at school have suffered various forms of childhood trauma known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). They include emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to substance abuse in the home, physical or sexual abuse, divorce, mental illness, physical neglect, a family member in prison, or violence against their mother. How can these children, exposed daily to family dysfunction and trauma, expect to be successful in school without the help of a supportive adult? Too often the recourse when helping these children becomes punitive rather than therapeutic. “Current educational philosophy allows a child’s behavior to control their education instead of educating the child to control their behavior,” states Dr. Knowles. Removing a child from school only compounds their problem. Research suggests that 30% of expelled students will end up in the judicial system. McAdams understands that not attending school decreases knowledge and increases the chances of youth growing up in poverty. Knowledge has the power to prevent or lift us out of poverty. McAdams Academy is the only option for children who can't attend public school because of expulsions or foster care placement problems.

Jack's Story

For students like Jack, behavior resulting in expulsion or suspension is often rooted in their trauma.

Jack's behavior was a distraction to the entire class. The inability to control his behavior and complete the simplest classroom tasks made him feel like an oddball. The more his teacher demanded compliance, the more he felt singled out, embarrassed, and a victim. When the teacher asked Jack to sit down and finish his assignment, he snapped. He threw his pencil, flipped his desk over, and stormed out of the room. Once again, Jack found himself in a familiar situation - expelled and regretting his behavior. Jack had nowhere to go and no one to call. He thought about walking back to the last place he spent the night, on the floor in a stranger's home, but couldn't bear the thought of possibly seeing his mother passed out from the previous night. His mother's addiction was hard for Jack to handle. With no job and no money, she often traded sex for drugs. Each night Jack would try to shut out the sounds of adults getting high and partying. Each morning he would wake fearful, wondering in what condition he would find his mother; would she be passed out or possibly even dead? Jack truly loved his mother but struggled with the thought, "Why does my mother choose drugs over my siblings and me?" Being expelled changed things for Jack. The one daily meal at school he counted on throughout the week would cease, and having a previous expulsion meant he would soon be two years behind academically.

Jack had been expelled for several weeks before he, not his mother, called McAdams to set up an enrollment appointment. A few days after he enrolled, Jack came to school angry. I asked what was going on. He cursed and said, "Leave me alone." After he changed into his McAdams shirt, I asked, "Can I help with anything?" He looked at me and said, "I don't know where my mother is." Jack said his mother left the night before, saying she was going out to get some clean clothes and would be right back. She never returned. That morning, he got his brothers and sisters dressed and walked them to a relative's house, and then he walked to McAdams. Jack could have stayed at his relative's home but he walked to McAdams, his only safe place. Jack was only fourteen.

Part 2:  The Opportunity:  Changing Lives

Expulsions, lack of permanent placements, and addiction treatment take children out of school and place them in unfamiliar surroundings. The "McAdams way" is to keep youth in school, a familiar setting, while receiving the specialized care they need. Since our beginnings in 2014 we have been innovators, teaching the high risk youth that others can't. McAdams is a debt-free, 501(c)(3) program, ready to build upon its proven track record to help more children in our community. McAdams receives no funding from school districts in Sedgwick County. As we lift kids and their families out of poverty, we need room to expand our existing services while adding new residential programs. These programs include addiction recovery, foster care, employment, family counseling and respite care. We need help from those who believe no child should be denied an education because of behavior. All children in our community deserve the same opportunity for a quality education.

McAdams receives no funding from Sedgwick County school systems.

McAdams Academy Educational Approach


  • McAdams Academy focuses on educating students about behavior because behavior, not poor academic performance, is what causes student expulsions from school.


  • Our staff is trauma-informed, trained in de-escalation techniques, and uses a relational classroom philosophy.


  • Several measurements are used during a student's intake to determine their academic, emotional, and behavioral needs. Using this information, we develop a Student Success Plan (SSP) that lays out a course to help our students overcome their deficiencies.

  • We use evidence-based practices and intervention programs to target and treat antisocial attitudes and behaviors.


  • McAdams Academy's curriculum is online and accredited; our elective classes are face-to-face. The electives address three aspects of an antisocial lifestyle and four contributing factors of poverty: Financial, Relational, Educational, and Emotional (FREE).

  • Other electives and activities include 3D printing, working with local artists on special projects, music classes, and internships with local businesses.

McAdams Academy Theory of Change

The Concern

Some children in our community are not attending school.


Because of school expulsions, suspensions, and youth in foster care without a permanent placement, some children can go all year without attending school. Many of these children fall into the at-risk or high-risk category and end up in the judicial system.

The Consequence

Not attending school decreases knowledge and increases poverty.


Financial poverty is lacking the knowledge to meet essential physical needs.

Relational poverty is lacking the knowledge to form and maintain healthy relationships.

Educational poverty is lacking the knowledge to learn.

Emotional poverty is lacking the knowledge to develop and maintain healthy feelings.

McAdams believes that regardless of a child's behavior, their education should not be disrupted.

The Need

A safe place for all kids to learn regardless of their circumstance.


Research suggests that children learn better when they feel safe. McAdams creates an environment conducive to learning by using evidence-based practices, one-on-one counseling, trauma- informed care, and understanding how adverse childhood experiences (ACES) affect kids.

The Practice

Individualized learning for each student.


Relational learning and accredited curriculum targeting individual academic needs in a low teacher/student ratio help students gain confidence and overcome many learning disabilities. Mentoring and addressing students' characteristics directly related to their likelihood of re-offending or committing crimes also helps them succeed in life.

The Change

Lifting kids out of poverty by increasing knowledge.


Every youth deserves the opportunity to be FREE to pursue their dreams:

Financially Relationally Educationally Emotionally.

Donors and Volunteers:  A Life-Changing Partnership

Compassionate donors and volunteers help McAdams Academy improve the lives of hurting children and their families. Your support enables McAdams to reach the vulnerable and neglected youth in our city who, because of their behavior, other schools' policies do not allow in their classrooms. If these vulnerable children in our community miss out on an education, they can spend their lives in poverty or incarcerated. Our community spends millions of dollars each year incarcerating youths who drop out of school and millions more as these same youths become adults dependent on the government for their basic needs. With the help of our donors and volunteers, we are educating our community’s neglected and vulnerable youth, filling a need in Wichita that other schools do not. Research suggests that children flourish when they have relationships with adults who model moral and spiritual values. McAdams desires to find adults in our community who share our passion and commitment to educating all children, regardless of their emotional or behavioral disabilities. Partner with McAdams as a
donor or volunteer.


Donate: Cash, stocks, or pledges; one-time or multiyear corporate sponsorships; or legacy gifts, such as wills, trusts, bequests, and life insurance. Visit to donate online.

Volunteer: Do you have a special compassion for our youth?

Contact us to volunteer or visit to fill out a volunteer form.

McAdams Funding Sources

McAdams Academy needs financial support. We do not receive any funding from taxpayer dollars or from local school districts. Paying tuition is a struggle for many of our families.

We rely on grants, the support of generous donors, and our ability to raise funds. 


We need financial support.  McAdams Academy receives no taxpayer funding or funding from school districts in Sedgwick County.

Part 3:  The Vision:  A Micro-Campus

Micro schools are not a new concept. They use a multi-faceted educational experience to prepare students for real-world success. McAdams Academy understands the educational, relational, and social needs absent in families with high-risk youth. We believe a micro-campus best meets those needs.


Respite Care and Family Counseling
At times families need to learn how to car
e for one another. McAdams can provide counseling, family care retreats, and respite care to help heal trauma while keeping kids in school. Eventually, McAdams will offer a K-12 program.


Residential Addiction Program
Instead of removing kids from school to treat their addiction, we can treat them on-site while 
they continue attending school. 

Residential Foster Care Program
Because of multiple displacements, foster children lose months of academic growth with each new placement. A residential facility that will not displace foster kids will add emotional and academic stability to the lives of struggling foster kids.


Employment Training Program
On-site job internships and entrepreneurial opportunities prepare youth to enter society as contributing citizens instead of growing into adults de
pendent on government assistance.

case for support two people.PNG

Take the Next Step:  Ways to Contribute

Please help us to teach youth to be successful in life, regardless of their circumstances.

Philanthropic Gifts

Cash, stocks, or multi-year pledges

  • Provide charitable donation to support a specific area of the McAdams program.

  • Make an undesignated gift to the area of greatest need.

  • Opportunities for naming recognition are available.

  • We rely on grants, the support of generous donors, and our ability to raise funds. 

Corporate Sponsorship

One-Time or multi-year pledges

  • Provide financial support in exchange for benefits such as corporate naming and brand visibility in new and existing facilities.

  • Engage in multi-year partnerships to match your corporate strategy.

Legacy Gifts

Cash, stocks, or multi-year pledges

  • Wills

  • Trusts

  • Bequests

  • Life Insurance

  • Estate Donations. 


“McAdams Academy offers lots of times the last best chance some of these kids
have for an education.” 
Steven Stonehouse, Director Sedgwick County Department of Corrections 

“When we met Chuck and the staff, they were awesome. They took such a weight off of us.” Parents of former McAdams student.

“I give credit to McAdams because they knew that God has bigger plans for my son, and they invested in him when they didn’t have to.” Single mother of former McAdams student.

Executive Director

Chuck Knowles, PhD

Founder and Executive Director

McAdams Academy

Chuck is a lifetime Wichitan and has been married for over 45 years. A father of six adult children (four birth, one adopted, and one foster) with 14 grandchildren. Chuck holds a Ph.D. in Social Research (Integration of Religion and Society) and has a wide range of experience as a business owner, a counselor, adjunct professor, and working with the inner city population.

McAdams Academy Board of Directors

Jeri Bellinger

Shelley Davis

Milt Dougherty

Deb Jamieson

Chuck Knowles

Sonya Norris
Meg McGranaghan

Jim Schuesler

Greg Smith

Winston Stith

bottom of page