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W.K. Kellogg Foundation Launches $8 Million Program to Spark Rural Entrepreneurship Development

BATTLE CREEK, Michigan, June 2, 2004 — The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced today it will award $8 million in grants to foster entrepreneurship across rural America. Four grants of up to $2 million each will be awarded to four rural regional entrepreneurship development systems. Each will promote entrepreneurial activity in their region, produce entrepreneurial models for other communities, leverage significant investment, and stimulate national and state interest in rural entrepreneurship policies and strategies.

“Unlocking the potential of rural people and rural communities is at the heart of the Kellogg Foundation’s work,” says Rick Foster, Vice President for Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food Systems and Rural Development programming area. “We believe that entrepreneurship is an important part of enabling rural America to impact its own economic destiny.”

Each of the four regional systems will be organized and led by a collaboration of organizations that will develop and implement products and services to encourage and stimulate entrepreneurship. Such a system would work to bring together rural development entrepreneurial system components of policy, education and training, technical assistance, finance, leadership, culture, and social entrepreneurship to leverage resources and provide greater impact in rural communities.

“We believe that groups working collaboratively are an important key to stimulating economic development,” says Caroline Carpenter, Kellogg Foundation Program Director for Rural Development. “The components of a collaborative Rural Entrepreneurship Development System for a region include entrepreneurship education for youth and adults, access to both capital and financial networks, and development of a culture that encourages, nurtures and raises the profile of entrepreneurs,” notes Carpenter.

The Kellogg Foundation has contracted with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) to assist it in identifying states and regions in rural America that demonstrate the capability of creating effective Entrepreneurial Development Systems.

The Foundation is seeking applicants who will form a collaborative of groups (may be private, governmental and non-profit) to provide a full range of entrepreneurship development services for their region — be it a community, county, group of counties, reservation or state. Each collaborative must include a lead organization, such as a university, community college, community development financial institution and/or other established private, non-profit or public entity to manage the grant.

The application deadline is August 13, 2004. Final awards will be announced in March 2005. More detailed application information can be found on the Kellogg Foundation’s Web site at http://www.wkkf.org/ruralentrepreneurs, or the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Web site at www.eshipsystems.org.

“This program provides a wonderful opportunity for rural America to explore the potential of entrepreneurship for revitalizing struggling communities. The emphasis on encouraging regional collaborations makes so much sense in these times of limited resources and growing need,” says Brian Dabson, President of the Washington, DC-based Corporation for Enterprise Development. “We look forward to working with the Foundation to make it happen.”

The Kellogg Foundation is funding this project as part of a special initiative to commemorate its 75th Anniversary (1930-2005). 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. Each of these efforts will broadly reflect the Foundation’s historical commitment to “help people help themselves.” Through their innovation and potential impact on society, they show special promise for continuing the Foundation’s legacy.

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