For Immediate Release
Plotting a Brighter Future for Rural America
Battle Creek, Michigan — A strong, vibrant rural America benefits all Americans. With that focus in mind, rural development, health and education leaders from across that nation will be meeting March 20-22, 2005, in Washington, D.C., to explore innovative policies and practices that can help invigorate our country's rural communities.
The meeting, "The State of 21st Century Rural America: Implications for Policy and Practice," is one of a series of six seminars that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is hosting in 2005 to mark its 75th Anniversary year. Food Systems and Rural Development is one of the Foundation's major programming areas. It funds more than $31 million annually in rural development grants — more than 3 times any other U.S. foundation.
Keynoting the "State of 21st Century Rural America" seminar will be United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. Johanns has a deep understanding of rural communities and rural issues. He was born in rural Iowa and grew up doing chores on his family's dairy farm. He was elected Governor of Nebraska in 1998. During his six years as governor Johanns was a strong advocate for rural communities and farmers and ranchers. He was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Jan. 21, 2005.
Another featured speaker will be Wilma Mankiller, the former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the first female in modern history to lead a major Native American tribe. As leader of the Cherokee people she represented the second largest tribe in the United States.
The seminar will look at issues and opportunities impacting rural communities in all regions of the country. Its program includes group discussions focusing on rural economic development, education, rural philanthropy and the rural/urban continuum, community building, securing resources and leveraging change. Another highlight will be the introduction of the video "Putting Face and Voice to Rural America."
"Everyone in America — urban, suburban and rural — has an interest in a strong rural America," says Rick Foster, vice president for programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "The families who live in our rural communities, which cover four-fifths of our nation's land area, are stewards of most of our nation's natural resources — our water, minerals, timber, fertile food-producing soils and major recreation areas."
Each of the Foundation's major programming areas is hosting a seminar in the 75th Anniversary Seminar series. In addition to "The State of 21st Century Rural America" seminar, other seminars that have or will take place this year are: "Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: Schools of Public Health Respond as Engaged Institutions," Feb. 9-11, 2005, in Houston, Texas; "Partnering With Youth to Build the Future," May 30-June 1, 2005, in Sao Paulo, Brazil; "Able to Play: Mobilizing Communities for Children," June 8-10, 2005, in Lansing, Mich.; "A Celebration of Youth Engagement Across Time and Culture," Oct. 17-19, 2005, in Battle Creek, Mich.; and "Caring for AIDS Orphans and Vulnerable Children," Nov. 9-11, 2005, at Robben Island, South Africa. Attendance and participation at all seminars is by invitation.
The seminar series is one of many events and projects planned to mark the Kellogg Foundation's 75th Anniversary year. Throughout this year, the Foundation is spotlighting the work of its grantees, promoting innovative practices, and sharing the story of founder W.K. Kellogg to inspire others to invest in the common good.
"While the Kellogg Foundation now ranks among the world's largest in terms of assets, grants, and total giving, these have never been the Foundation's metrics for achievement," says Dr. William C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. "The Kellogg Foundation measures its success by the people it helps, by the difference it makes, and by its fidelity to its founder's vision. Only by investing in people can we truly influence real change — that's been the Kellogg way since day one, and it will remain the Kellogg way for years to come," he says.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." Grants made during the 75th celebration will support traditional areas of emphasis —- health, food systems and rural development, youth and education, philanthropy and volunteerism — as well as new opportunities that build on the Foundation's current programming. Through their innovation and potential impact on society, they show special promise for continuing the Foundation's legacy. Geographically the Kellogg Foundation concentrates its grants in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
For additional information on the Kellogg Foundation's 75th Anniversary investments, including the seminar series, visit: www.wkkf.org/75th.