Respect for heritage, commemoration of our founder, and a relentless focus on strategy are the themes which come together and underpin the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's recent creation of the Kellogg Foundation Legacy Endowment to benefit the California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, California (Cal Poly Pomona).
Funded by a $42 million challenge grant, the endowment reaffirms W.K. Kellogg's deep affection for the city of Pomona, and his conviction that education is the best opportunity to improve one generation over another.
The announcement of the grant--which is the largest cash gift in the history of the California State University system--was made in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Mr. Kellogg's birth. But the university and the foundation chose to wait to make the announcement, in deference to the community celebration of the April 7 birthday itself in Mr. Kellogg's home town of Battle Creek, Mich.
“We are proud to honor the 150th anniversary of the birth of our founder with this grant to bolster educational opportunities for current and aspiring students,” said Sterling K. Speirn, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Mr. Kellogg was a strong believer in education, and his vision of ‘investing in people’ has translated into the foundation’s fundamental belief that access to a high-quality education is vital to enhancing the lives of vulnerable youth.”
The Kellogg family and the foundation share a rich history with Cal Poly Pomona. In the 1920's, Mr. Kellogg fell in love with the rolling hills of what is now the northern edge of the campus, establishing a winter home and his Arabian Horse Ranch. While he donated the ranch and his prized Arabian horse collection to the University of California in 1932, ownership was subsequently transferred to the War Department and then to the Department of Agriculture. In 1949, largely as a result of Mr. Kellogg's intercession, the ranch was deeded to the foundation, which in turn, deeded the land to the California State College system, for use as a campus. The university, which was originally an extension of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, became an independent campus in 1966.
The foundation continued to invest in the Cal Poly Pomona campus programs honoring Mr. Kellogg’s love for Arabian horses by providing support for equine educational programs and the Arabian Horse Library.
In the years since, the university has become one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the western U.S., with a student population comprised of roughly a third each of Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander and White (non-Latino) students, four percent African American and approximately half of one percent Native American and Alaskan Native students. In addition, supported partly by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the school has become known both for its service to underrepresented communities, and for its efforts on behalf of vulnerable children.
Under the terms of the grant, current and future presidents of Cal Poly Pomona will have the flexibility to apply annual endowment earnings to the most timely and pressing institutional needs each year. That will give the school a stable, reliable source of annual revenue for premier programs, and particularly for those programs that receive no state funding and that are aligned with the foundation's mission and framework.
For example, Cal Poly's Renaissance Scholars program nurtures some of the most at-risk students. Established to honor the aspirations of motivated and talented students who come from the foster care system, the program is typical of the kinds of activities that could be expanded dramatically, given additional resources like those represented by the Kellogg Endowment.
In keeping with an emphasis on education and learning, endowment revenues may also be used for expansion of the university's community outreach activities. In a school district with a 62 percent low-income enrollment, current university efforts include a partnership with a Pomona elementary school that seeks to hone the math skills of many African American applicants to the university.
Similarly, the university seeks to continue its tradition of service to under-represented communities. For example, with its designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, the university graduates more Latino engineers and architects than any other campus in the nation.
Endowment revenues may also be used to support service learning activities, such as a program offering free income tax preparation for low-income area residents, the creation of community farms around abandoned buildings, and the creation of a farmer's market at a medical facility serving a largely Latino population.
Ultimately, according to University President Michael Ortiz, the gift will be transformational.
"With these resources, we will be able to change lives and contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the region," he said.