We believe that one measure of a society is the importance it places on the optimal development of all of its children. We envision a future and a society where every child thrives, and we invest in areas to advance that vision.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) places the optimal development of children at the center of all we do and calls for healing the profound racial gaps and inequities that exist in our communities. We believe in supporting and building upon the mindsets, methods and modes of change that hold promise to advance children’s best interests generally, and those of vulnerable children in particular.
Concentrating our resources on early childhood (prenatal to age 8), within the context of families and communities, offers the best opportunity to dramatically reduce the vulnerability caused by poverty and racial inequity over time.
There is strong evidence that optimal child development means providing children with the stimulus, tools and support necessary for their emotional, intellectual, physical and cultural growth. To achieve this, we organize our work and investments toward attaining three strategic goals:
- Educated Kids: Increase the number of children who are reading-and-math proficient by third grade.
- Healthy Kids: Increase the number of children born at a healthy birth weight and who receive the care and healthy food they need for optimal development.
- Secure Families: Increase the number of children and families living at least 200 percent above the poverty level.
Within and around each goal are commitments to Community & Civic Engagement and Racial Equity – because both are necessary for communities to create the conditions under which all children can thrive.
We take a place-based approach to our work, concentrating as much as two-thirds of our grantmaking in a limited number of specific places where we believe we can have maximum impact.
Community & Civic Engagement
Partner with diverse communities, amplifying their voices and helping create conditions in which all children can thrive.
Pursue racial equity for all children by addressing the consequences of structural racism and fostering racial healing.
Increase the number of children who are reading-and-math proficient by third grade.
Increase the number of children born at a healthy birth weight and who receive the care and healthy food they need for optimal development.
Increase the number of children and families living at least 200 percent above the poverty level.
WKKF works throughout the United States, in Haiti, Mexico, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa, and with sovereign tribes. Wherever we partner, we operate with the belief that significant and lasting change begins with individuals and communities coming together to advance children’s best interests.
In 2008, the foundation began concentrating up to two-thirds of its grantmaking in several priority places, while maintaining its broader grantmaking efforts throughout the U.S. and in other key areas.
We have found that our social change efforts are most effective when they operate in a limited number of geographic locations, in full partnership with communities, over extended periods of time. Many of these places are also locations where WKKF has a deep history of grantmaking, existing relationships and, in some cases, infrastructure to leverage.
Within the United States, priority places include Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans. Internationally, they also include micro-regions in Haiti and Mexico. We are committed to working in each of these priority places for at least a generation.
Our work includes both nationwide grantmaking and, to a lesser extent, more localized projects in areas other than our priority places. In all cases, grants are focused upon our strategic goals and our commitment to working alongside grantees, communities and others to help create conditions in which all children can thrive.
Historically, Michigan began as our sole priority place, both because Battle Creek is our hometown and because of the limited educational and health resources available to Michigan’s then largely rural population. It remains one of our priority places, with an estimated one-in-five Michigan children living in poverty. In addition to Battle Creek, we also focus on Detroit, Grand Rapids and statewide.
Our relationships with grantees in Mississippi date back almost 60 years, and are rooted in eliminating the educational disparities, poor health outcomes, pockets of poverty and enduring racial inequity that impede children’s healthy development and limit opportunities for their parents. Grants are concentrated in East Biloxi, Jackson and Sunflower County.
The foundation has been actively engaged in New Mexico since 1945. We remain committed to embracing the wisdom of the state’s unique and extraordinarily diverse cultural, social and governance traditions and to promoting equity across boundaries of language, ethnicity and national origin. Grants are concentrated in Bernalillo, Doña Ana, McKinley and San Juan counties and in Native communities.
Our work in New Orleans dates to 1942, and intensified in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as we joined with those rebuilding the city. Grants are concentrated in, but not exclusive to, the Central City neighborhood where we are helping create a child-centered city with quality early education and childcare, engaged parents, healthy food, quality schools and safe communities.
The foundation has been active internationally – in various ways, in numerous countries on four continents – virtually since its creation in 1930. Today, our grantmaking focuses on rural and semi-urban micro-regions in Mexico and Haiti, and on legacy grantmaking in northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.
We began building relationships in Mexico more than 60 years ago. Today, our efforts are concentrated in the Highlands of Chiapas and the inner areas of the Yucatán, areas where poverty is high. Yet both micro-regions also show great potential for improvement – measured by strong social fabric, local leadership, resource availability and a shared sense of priority among governments, private sector and other funders.
Our work in Haiti began in the 1950s, first through fellowships and scholarships, and later with a full-scale grant program that lasted until 2006. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, a new window of opportunity opened in Haiti, thanks to strengthened solidarity among Haitians, renewed international interest and longer-term strategic thinking. Our current efforts focus on two micro-regions: the Central Area and the Southwest Corridor.
With people of color representing nearly half of the population, more than 70 percent of the deprived population and possessing a homicide rate more than twice that of whites, surprisingly few financial resources are currently directed to racial equity. The Baobá Fund is an outgrowth of a 2008 Kellogg Foundation initiative to engage Afro-Brazilians and activists in exploring alternatives for racial equity work that would be sustainable over the long-term.
The foundation’s work in southern Africa dates to the mid-1980s. College bursaries (scholarships) from the Kellogg Foundation provide education opportunities to black southern Africans in the countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Building a future in which every child thrives will take more than money and good intentions. It will take social change that starts in – and honors the wisdom of – families, schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, Tribes and communities, and expands outward to others who share common interests, to legislators and policymakers, and to later generations.
The Kellogg Foundation works alongside grantees, communities and others in several ways to build that future:
We support generating dialogue within communities to help them identify their challenges and establish goals and priorities and also dialogue among communities to help build local, regional, national and international networks for sharing resources, experience and knowledge.
Developing Local Leaders
We believe that long-term, sustainable change for communities depends in large part on developing and nurturing community-based expertise.
Investing in Opportunity
While grantmaking remains our primary activity, we see potential opportunity in program related investments and mission-driven investments that enable high impact financial institutions to move capital into communities.
We lend our voice and knowledge to local, national and international groups working to change public policies that affect children in ways consistent with our vision and goals.
By offering our knowledge, best practices, resources and influence to other foundations, we hope to facilitate progress in support of causes and goals we share.