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A laser-sharp focus on equitable opportunity

Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) scholarship program is helping Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) graduates become first generation college students, working toward degrees in education, nursing or health professions. Six students received scholarships in 2020, as part of WKKF’s grant to GVSU to partner with BCPS to transform the district and promote economic growth and opportunity for the community. Opportunity awaits!

The distribution in the U.S. of Lavi spicy peanut butter, a product of WKKF grantees Acceso and Partners in Health, has been expanding. In this Bon Appétit video, DeVonn Francis shows one way to cook with the product, and speaks with Lavi Communications Manager Soukaina Dia about its social impact and importance.

While e-commerce and food delivery jobs continue to flourish during the pandemic, essential workers still bear the brunt of risk for little reward in return, according to a recent report funded by WKKF. Proposals like what was recently passed in California sidestep labor laws, keep many workers in contract status, limiting their access to permanent employee benefits like health care, unemployment and pay increases. 

In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the contrast between law enforcement treatment of the violent mob and tactics used against peaceful racial justice protesters was under scrutiny in media interviews and public discussions. Professor Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, offered thoughtful analysis in a conversation with Amna Nawaz of PBS NewsHour, a WKKF grantee.

Leading women share their insights and expertise in Forbes on ensuring the world that emerges post COVID-19 is more just, sustainable and equitable. Elizabeth Barajas-Román, president and CEO of Women’s Funding Network, a WKKF grantee, says, “Women philanthropists come in every race, ethnicity, economic background, immigration status and identity. The combined power of all gift sizes is what built women’s funds and foundations into the global force they are today.”

In Mexico, WKKF grantee Asociación Civil Melel Xojobal has been drawing attention to the plight of young people in Chiapas. Recent articles in several outlets, including Chiapas Paralelo, about the pandemic’s impact on young people, cited Melel Xojobal’s finding that 65 girls and young women were killed in gender-based violence in the state from 2011 to 2020. Melel Xojobal shares this information as part of its work to protect young people in Chiapas and promote their rights.

Meanwhile, Diario Contra Républica reported on efforts by the Population Council to combat the problem of violence against young people, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic in Mexico. As a grantee of WKKF, the Population Council works to improve the quality of life for Mayan adolescent girls in the state of Yucatán.

The U.S. has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among developed countries. For communities of color, it is worse, and the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these inequities. While most women of color experience an elevated risk of poor health outcomes—notably American Indian and Alaska Native and some Latinx communities—data show that the racial disparities between African Americans and Whites are the starkest. WKKF grantee HealthConnect One is working toward better health outcomes for mothers and babies of color by improving initiation and duration of breastfeeding rates with community-based support models. 

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