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W.K. Kellogg Foundation launches new fellowship program making a re-entry into leadership development

Contact: Wade Nelson



BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Today, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) marks its return to leadership development with the launch of the WKKF Community Leadership Network. The new initiative seeks to develop the leadership skills of individuals who will be community-based social change agents working to help vulnerable children and their families achieve optimal health and well-being, access to good food, academic achievement and financial security.

The new fellowship program is a critical component of the foundation’s longstanding commitment to community and civic engagement, which is grounded in the belief that people have the inherent capacity to solve their own problems and that social transformation is within the reach of all communities. A total of 100 fellows will be equitably selected from the foundation’s U.S. priority places – Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans – and will do their work there. Another 20 fellows will be selected from outside these priority places and will function as a national cohort whose work will focus on racial healing and equity, which sets it apart from most other leadership initiatives. The foundation will seek out emerging as well as established leaders for selection to the program.

“Leadership, community and networking form the basis of this new program. The initiative is meant to advance our goal of leveraging community leaders to find and implement lasting solutions for improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families,” said WKKF President and CEO Sterling K. Speirn. “During the program, fellows will develop skills directly applicable to addressing the needs of vulnerable children and the structural disparities that disrupt their lives and well-being.”

The WKKF board of trustees mandated the re-entry into the leadership field in part to reflect the foundation’s strategic framework, which has evolved in recent years to focus on vulnerable children and their families. The foundation is making an initial six-year commitment to the fellowship. During this time the fellowship will support three classes, up to 360 individuals. Fellows will receive a stipend of $20,000 and will be reimbursed for their travel and accommodation expenses for the quarterly cohort meetings. They will also receive $5,000 to execute their action project in the third year of their fellowship.

WKKF fellows will spend three years sharpening their leadership skills and sharing their experiences with a cohort of developing leaders in a process that will transform them into strong conductors of social change, lasting well beyond the program’s duration. Through the fellowship, the foundation hopes to support a network of emerging and established community leaders who are able to unify diverse communities into a cohesive unit, dedicated to the advancement of at-risk children and their families. To effectively address the issues contributing to childhood poverty, the cohort of fellows will contain an inclusive, intergenerational mix of voices from throughout the community – both visible and invisible leaders who embody a diversity of perspective. Fellows will receive support to participate in individual and group learning activities that support ongoing connectedness beyond the three-year fellowship experience.

“It is our goal and belief that fellows will become tomorrow’s next generation of great leaders, creating conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society,” said Speirn.

For more than 80 years, fellowships have been one of the foundation’s most effective tools for supporting emerging and existing leaders to achieve social change. Chris Block, a past Kellogg Foundation fellow said the one-of-a-kind experience has informed his role as CEO of the American Leadership Forum (ALF), an organization that uses fellowships to building stronger communities by joining and strengthening leaders to serve the common good.

“My experience as a fellow strengthened my understanding of how individuals in deep relationships can empower communities to solve their own problems, a framework that I apply every day in my work with community leaders at ALF,” said Block. “The launch of the WKKF Community Leadership Network will allow a new generation of leaders to benefit from this model – one that is deeply rooted in community, networking and a commitment to diverse communities” 

Ideal candidates for the WKKF Community Leadership Network are developing or established leaders, ages 23 years or older, who grasp the importance of working with others and do so to drive social change that positively impacts the lives of vulnerable children and their families.  More information about the WKKF Community Leadership Network or to apply, visit: www.wkkf.org/leadership. The deadline to submit an application for the fellowship is Jan. 10, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to help break the cycle of poverty by removing barriers based on race or income that hold back children, so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.

Selected Kellogg Foundation Leadership Initiatives:

1930s: Michigan Community Health Project – Involving hundreds of local leaders in promoting community health, education and welfare. WKKF’s first major effort aimed to produce community leaders to attack social problems.

1940s: Kellogg Fellowships and the International Study Grants Program – Following the outbreak of World War II, WKKF began awarding fellowships to non-U.S. citizens involved in health and education work, providing opportunities for teaching and research personnel to benefit from study experiences in the United States.

1960s: Agriculture Leadership Development Program – The program had a substantial, cumulative effect on its participants, resulting in increased interpersonal skills that have led to leadership posts in civic or community organizations and even election to legislatures. 

1970s: National 4-H Council Grant – Addressing the changing needs of youth training programs for young leaders. WKKF’s first grant to the 4-H non-profit youth organization came at a time when this highly respected group with millions of members and adult learners nationwide was in desperate need of concentrated training for new leaders. Over the years, in addition to the 4-H leadership development work, WKKF also has made grants to other youth organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, & Junior Achievement, Inc., as well as to the 4-S program in Latin America, which is similar to 4-H.

1980s: Family Community Leadership Project (FCL): The FCL program began in Oregon where rural homemakers acquired leadership skills, making it possible for them to assume more active roles in community decision-making. Over a 15- year period the program was replicated in other states.

1990s: Grassroots Community Leadership – Promoting the Development of Local Leaders: Between 1992 and 1996, WKKF invested more than $20 million in a cluster of projects to strengthen grassroots community leadership in the U.S. The common thread running through all the projects funded by this initiative is the simultaneous focus on the individual, the community and the organization.

2000s: Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance – A program that creates opportunities for the 1,300+ past Kellogg Fellows from across the world to connect with one another and create new projects on a wide range of issues that affect communities, engage key stakeholders and create safe space for dialogue and action.

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