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Inaugural class of WKKF Community Leadership Network convenes in Battle Creek

Contact: Wade Nelson

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Today, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) convenes the inaugural class of the WKKF Community Leadership Network, marking the foundation’s re-entry into leadership development. This group of 120 community-based established and emerging leaders will develop their leadership skills over the three years of the fellowship with the overall aim of helping vulnerable children and their families achieve optimal health and well-being, access to good food, academic achievement and financial security.

To address the issues associated with poverty and racial inequity, the cohort of fellows is composed of an inclusive, intergenerational mix of voices drawn from the community and whose work will be done in the community. The inaugural class brings a diverse set of perspectives and includes clergy members, school principals, tribal leaders, community organizers, youth advocates, a newspaper publisher and a state senator. 

The first class includes 24 fellows for each of WKKF’s U.S. priority places: Michigan, New Mexico, Mississippi and New Orleans. Another 24 fellows from 15 states and the District of Columbia will focus nationwide on racial equity and racial healing issues.  During the program’s second year the racial equity and healing cohort will provide support to place cohorts as they jointly develop and implement their third year community-based and children-centered projects. 

“Throughout its history, the Kellogg Foundation has embraced leadership as a critical component in helping people help themselves,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and chief executive officer of the foundation. “We believe that effective individual leaders are people who can commit themselves to addressing challenges, help their community articulate a vision for change and build the commitment and partnerships that improve the lives of people in the community. Each fellow’s unique skills, life experiences and community-grounded perspectives power the WKKF Community Leadership Network and can be a key factor in changing conditions toward helping children thrive.” 

In assembling the first cohort of fellows, WKKF sought to attract a broad range of participants ready to embrace collaborative work and seek out community partners. 

Verenice Gutierrez is a member of the national cohort focusing on racial healing and principal of Scott K-8 School in Portland, Oregon. “I have spent my entire career being an advocate for vulnerable children, as a teacher, principal and school administrator. The WKKF Community Leadership Network will provide me the opportunity to deepen my leadership skills, share challenges and successes and build solutions that create systemic change for children,” said Gutierrez. “The fellowship will allow me to reflect on the work being done in my own community in the company of other leaders providing a true network of support for our work.”  

WKKF Community Leadership Network fellows will spend three years sharpening their leadership skills and sharing their experiences with their cohort, including participation in individual and group learning activities that support ongoing connectedness beyond the three-year fellowship experience. 

The WKKF Board of Trustees advocated 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 an award of up to $60,000 for three years.

The inaugural class of fellows meets for the first time May 12-15, 2014 in Battle Creek, Mich. for a session on Building the Beloved Community for Transformative Change.  Learn more about the WKKF Community Leadership Network and the list of fellows.

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.

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