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Improving outcomes and incomes 


Media headlines about corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts might lead some to believe that a “great retreat” is happening. W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron penned an op-ed in Fortune lifting up a different story, with data and proof points from the foundation’s Expanding Equity program. “It’s time to stop discussing if companies are investing in DEI,” she wrote, “and instead spread the word about how the leaders bravely moving forward with DEI efforts are succeeding.”


Buying a cup of coffee or choosing a local caterer can mean more than a simple transaction, as studies show consumers are aligning their wallets with their values. However, gaps in the marketplace persist as investment firms owned by women and people of color only represent 1.4% of the more than $70 trillion of investable assets. Impact Engine, a person of color- and women-led asset manager, is leveraging their platform to deploy capital to fund managers and companies that are reaching untapped markets with impact and integrity. They recently announced an $85 million close for its Private Equity Fund II, with backing from WKKF, that will be a catalyst for economic opportunity, environmental sustainability and health equity.


Only 20% of defendants in Mississippi have legal representation before indictment, according to an investigation by our grantee ProPublica, which partnered with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and The Marshall Project to shed light on how the state honors a defendant’s constitutional right to legal counsel. Mississippi is among a handful of states that rely on local officials to fund and deliver almost all public defense for people facing trial. Poor defendants can go months or even years without appointed counsel as they wait for their cases to move forward, according to the report.


Rx Kids, a pioneering initiative in Flint, Michigan, offers $1,500 to expectant mothers and $500 per month to babies in their first year. Managed by Michigan State University in collaboration with a hospital system and other partners, it has garnered attention from PBS NewsHour and The Atlantic. In Flint, where over 50% of children grow up in poverty while facing significant health challenges, Rx Kids aims to break this cycle by boosting incomes and improving health outcomes. This innovative approach signals a growing interest in nationwide cash-based programs benefiting children.


Grand Valley State University (GVSU), a WKKF grantee and partner in Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, Michigan, has launched Omni. The new program’s goal is to bring in students not from high school but from the workforce, to help build pathways to higher-wage jobs. The program will create more equitable access to opportunity for people in the communities GVSU serves. 


A groundbreaking report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Equity Commission, highlighted in a recent NPR story, features more than 60 recommendations designed to make policies affecting farming and rural America more fair. A few key recommendations include institutionalizing equity and accountability as well as improving staff diversity at the USDA; providing technical assistance and translation services to help applicants submit applications for programs; and improving access to nutrition for disadvantaged and underserved communities. The Equity Commission included several WKKF grantees including the Hmong American Farmers Association, Land Loss Prevention Project, National Young Farmers Coalition, the Intertribal Agriculture Council and a number of other longtime partners.

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