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Legacy Scholars Program Led by Newly Formed Board of Directors

A board of directors has been established to guide the Legacy Scholars program launched this spring. This 15-person board represents Battle Creek parents, youth, local businesses and organizations, and the Battle Creek-area educational community. The board’s newly elected officers include Pat Brasseur, president; Lesa Forrest, vice president; Karl Dehn, treasurer; and Denise Little, secretary.

Part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary grantmaking activities, the Legacy Scholars program is about making high school diplomas and college degrees a reality for local children. The program recognizes that every child has promise, and certain barriers make it difficult for many in Battle Creek to achieve that promise. Students selected to be Legacy Scholars receive two-year scholarships to Kellogg Community College (62 credit-hour equivalent). Scholarships are “last dollar,” used to supplement any other scholarships or grants students receive. This fall, up to 500 sixth-graders will become Legacy Scholars. This process will repeat into perpetuity, with similar numbers of Scholars selected each year. 

In other Legacy Scholars news, area adults – parents, teachers and others – have nominated 603 students to the Legacy Scholars program. A selection committee will review the nominations, and up to 500 students will become Legacy Scholars this fall. “We are very encouraged by these results,” said Donna Lartigue, a Kellogg Foundation program director leading the collaborative effort to create Legacy Scholars. “It’s clear that people care deeply about the education of our children – and the future of our community.”

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in Battle Creek Public Schools or the Lakeview School District at the beginning of sixth grade.

Joe Kretovics, Ph.D., a professor at Western Michigan University, is a member of the Legacy Scholars board. Over the last six years, Dr. Kretovics has led Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a federally funded program in support of Battle Creek Public Schools that prepares students to be successful in higher education.

“The Legacy Scholars program will help assure that if students take advantage of college preparation, they will be able to attend college,” said Kretovics.

“We know that, on average, college graduates earn about 82 percent more than people with a high school diploma. The average college graduate earns $51,000 per year. The annual income is $28,000 for a high school graduate,” said Kretovics, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.

The new board of directors is made up of volunteers charged with overseeing the $4 million endowment contributed by the Kellogg Foundation to support Legacy Scholars. The board’s other significant responsibilities include:
• Guiding the Legacy Scholars program, and with it, striving to create a positive impact in the lives of Battle Creek-area youth
• Hiring a program director to manage the program
• Forging community partnerships that will strengthen the program’s effectiveness
• Determining support systems that will benefit Legacy Scholars

Lesa Forrest, Battle Creek resident and newly elected Legacy Scholars board vice chair, gave these reasons for joining the board: “I have a passion for children and a passion for growth. I am a mother of six children who have a wide range of learning styles. One of my children attended Kellogg Community College, and one, Harvard. It doesn’t matter where a student starts, it’s a matter of motivation.” Forrest added, “The Legacy Scholars program gives [children] something to shoot for. And we’re preparing them early – in sixth grade – so they can begin thinking about college early.”

“The Legacy Scholars program opens the door,” said Pat Brasseur, newly elected Legacy Scholars board chair and owner of six Battle Creek McDonald’s restaurants. “There is an opportunity for every child who has need in the Battle Creek and Lakeview districts. The program represents real systemic change. With an educated populous, we can look forward to real economic change and a good future for our community.”

The Legacy Scholars program is one of many ways the Kellogg Foundation is investing in the common good – in Battle Creek and around the world – during its 75th Anniversary year.

For additional information on the Kellogg Foundation’s 75th Anniversary investments, visit: www.wkkf.org/75th.

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