The W.K. Kellogg Foundation will engage more local organizations in the next few months by offering new Yes we can! Community Change and Planning grants, explained in our new Guide for Local Grantseekers. These grants will provide additional funding to help the community reduce poverty and improve the academic achievement of children living in low-income Battle Creek neighborhoods. With the greater involvement of local residents and partner organizations, the Yes we can! initiative will expand its reach to serve a greater number of neighborhoods in Battle Creek.
“These new Yes we can! grants will allow us to build on the good work residents and other community partners have already accomplished through Yes we can!” says Jim McHale, assistant vice president of the Kellogg Foundation, responsible for Greater Battle Creek Programming. “The Foundation is here to help in whatever way we can, but the real ideas and effort come from community organizations and residents. We continue to be committed to a highly collaborative process in which residents have a voice in activities and programs being developed and implemented.”
The first step is for local organizations whose missions and activities align with the goals of Yes we can! to apply for the new Yes we can! grants:
- Community Change Grants – Available to organizations working to achieve healthier neighborhoods, an equitable system of education and youth development, powerful and informed resident leaders, and expanded economic opportunity.
- Planning Grants – Available to organizations not yet ready to pursue a Community Change Grant opportunity. Planning Grants are intended to help local organizations learn strategies and processes for engaging residents in community change.
“A major area of focus for new Yes we can! grants will be on continuing to build and improve relationships between community residents and the organizations that are in place to assist them,” says Katie Fitzgerald, a program director of Greater Battle Creek Programming. “This means supporting community organizing efforts, supporting leadership development for both residents and organization leaders, and helping community-based organizations become stronger partners in community change.” Fitzgerald emphasizes that this work is grounded in the Kellogg Foundation’s mission of “helping people help themselves.” “It will be up to residents and community organizations to determine how best to support the needs of the community,” she says, “and Yes we can! will help support the decisions they make and the partnerships they create. But, we will also be sure that we support partnerships that have the potential to sustain themselves after the life of the Yes we can! grant.”
Despite these plans for expansion, the commitment to the initial seven Yes we can! neighborhoods remains. Residents in these neighborhoods will continue to have access to the Yes we can! mini-grant program. The Battle Creek Community Foundation will house the mini-grant program, while a steering committee of residents will continue to review and award the mini-grants, as well as provide oversight and direction to the operation of the program. Mini-grant funding has helped to support projects such as leadership training, increasing parents’ involvement in their children’s education, and job-skill training.
“We are moving from Yes we can! neighborhoods to a Yes we can! community. Improving educational and economic outcomes for low-income children and families remains the central focus. We expect to see residents and neighborhood leaders developing stronger relationships with supportive community organizations. Together, they’ll be better equipped to address issues at neighborhood, city-wide, and regional levels, and the entire community stands to benefit,” says McHale.