Battle Creek, MI – Today the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) announced an unprecedented commitment to strengthen Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) so all students have access to a quality education to ensure their academic success. The five-year $51 million investment will provide a comprehensive approach to impact every grade and every building in the district.
“Every child in Battle Creek has tremendous potential and it’s incumbent on this community to make each child’s educational journey a success. Together we can support all our children to the fullest so they can realize their dreams,” said WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. “We believe transformational change is needed, and can only happen with the bold vision and commitment that the Kellogg Foundation and Battle Creek Public Schools are announcing today.”
The grant to BCPS will support a variety of new programs and enrichment opportunities and sets in motion exciting, top-to-bottom changes to support students, parents, teachers and school staff, said Superintendent Kim Carter, who has been working across the district with staff, teachers, parents, community organizations and national education experts to develop a blueprint for the district’s future.
“My vision for our students, for our district, is that every single child graduates BCPS college or career ready,” Carter said. “Our partnership with the Kellogg Foundation gives our district, teachers and students the resources to reach that goal.
“And when we reach that goal, I’m confident that we will rebirth the Bearcat pride that once before so fondly defined our community and gave us reason to celebrate.”
Over the five years, the grant will support:
- Recruitment and retention incentives for teachers, as well as professional development
- A full day pre-kindergarten summer transition program
- Extended pre-kindergarten school year
- Implementation of an Intermediate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) academy
- High school college pathways program, including an early middle college program, an International Baccalaureate program and academies aligned with fields of interest
- Enhanced academic program supports for all learners
- Comprehensive behavior education plan focused on alternatives to school suspension
- Investments in the arts and athletics
- Early literacy support personnel
- Implementation of innovative curriculum aligned at all grade levels
Carter said the changes in curriculum and supports to teachers and staff will help increase student achievement in math and reading, graduation rates and teacher retention, as well as decrease student absenteeism, suspensions and dropout rates.
The foundation made a public commitment to BCPS students earlier this year after a New York University study of the community’s education system unearthed significant disinvestments in BCPS, which compared to surrounding districts have higher needs and lower access. These inequities are rooted in decades of racial segregation. The study was commissioned by BCVision, which is a community-led effort to transform Battle Creek into a thriving community.
“If we believe that every child deserves to reach their full potential, then we have to recognize that some students have been denied the resources that they need based on their neighborhood, income, race and identity,” said Stephen Chang, senior associate with the National Equity Project, a national group who works with organizations to build equity in education. They have been a partner to BCVision. “BCPS serves many of the students and neighborhoods in Battle Creek with the lowest access to these resources and overcoming these gaps requires bold action."
Tabron said Battle Creek is witnessing historic times. Last month all four area school boards came together in a historic joint meeting to talk about the NYU study and begin a conversation about how they can address the inequities in education across the community.
“These are bold and courageous efforts because the work ahead will be hard and at times messy. But this work is so important and it needs all of us,” Tabron said. “It is our responsibility as a community to stand with our children so they can thrive. I’m proud to do that today and I encourage every one in Battle Creek – and outside of Battle Creek - to find their role in this work ahead.”
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder applauded the foundation and district’s partnership.
“All children deserve and should have access to a quality education in their community. As a native of Battle Creek I am proud of how the foundation and the greater community are wrapping their arms around its children to ensure their success,” he said. “The achievements of our children in school not only molds their success in life, but is paramount to the vibrancy of the state.”
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 create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, 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.