Kellogg cereal company founder Will Keith Kellogg (1860-1951) established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF)—originally known as the W. K. Kellogg Welfare Foundation—in 1930. According to biographer Horace Powell, Mr. Kellogg “fumed over the ‘Socialist trend’ in politics, and not only aided conservative political candidates financially but also with every ounce of influence he could muster.” On the premise that education was the key to all long-term success, most of his Foundation’s early donations were geared toward helping young people. “Use the [Foundation] money as you please so long as it promotes the health, happiness and well-being of children,” Mr. Kellogg instructed his staff. Beyond this, Kellogg was not at all specific regarding how his Foundation’s resources should be spent. As the Capital Research Center notes, he “never used his foundation to promote political ideas,” and “politics appear to have played no part in [his] philanthropy.”
During much of the 1930s, WKKF worked mainly in and around its hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. Its very first initiative was aimed at helping the Michigan Community Health Project provide nurses and doctors for rural children in south-central Michigan.
In the mid-1930s, the Foundation experimented with outdoor education by building schools and outdoor camps in rural areas of Michigan.
During the early years of World War II, WKKF expanded its grantmaking into Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere. In postwar Europe, Kellogg grants helped revive and modernize the continent’s farm economies. In the U.S., meanwhile, the Foundation focused its philanthropy on the development of more nurses, health care administrators, and community colleges.
After Mr. Kellogg died in 1951, his Foundation drifted leftward politically. It then made a more dramatic move in that direction in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when it began to focus heavily on combating injustices against minorities in the United States.
WKKF continued to grow steadily throughout the ’60s and ’70s, and by 1980 it had invested nearly $500 million in health, agriculture, and education initiatives on four continents.
In the mid-1980s, the Foundation not only awarded college scholarships to blacks in apartheid-era South Africa, but also adapted its grantmaking priorities to address “changing social needs” vis-a-vis “food systems and rural development.”
In the 1990s, WKKF strove to help “narrow the digital divide” by “reaching out to the millions of people who lacked access to technology because of poverty, illiteracy or geographic isolation.”
By its 75th anniversary in 2005, the Kellogg Foundation had awarded more than $3 billion in grants since its inception.
Today, WKKF’s grantmaking aims “to facilitate and assist in the process of social change for the betterment of people in society, particularly in the interest of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.” In the same vein, the Foundation seeks to bridge the gap “between poor and rich” and “between the haves and the have-nots” in the United States, Mexico, Haiti, northeastern Brazil, and southern Africa.
Former (1995-2005) WKKF pesident and CEO William Richardson gave voice to his Foundation’s perception of America as a nation steeped in racism and injustice when he impugned the country for its rising “inequality in income” and “concentration of wealth”; its “epidemic proportions” of black incarceration; its high black and Native American unemployment rates; its countenance of “redlining, racial tracking in schools, and racial profiling”; and its ubiquitous “environmental discrimination,” as evidenced by an overabundance of “toxic waste … near low-income neighborhoods [whose] residents have usually lacked the political influence to protest successfully.” To address these alleged inequities, Richardson implemented mandatory “racism workshops” requiring all Foundation staff members to take a hard look at “white male privilege and the subtle ways that racism manifests itself in modern organizations.”
In May 2010, WKKF announced that it was committing $75 million to launch an “America Healing Initiative” (AHI), billed as “the most significant effort in our nation’s history to bring racial healing to communities and dismantle structural racism in America.” Lamenting that “racial privilege and structural inequities have influenced the nation’s policies and social systems” since colonial times, the Foundation claimed that “those who differ from the majority because of race, color, sexual orientation, religion, gender, weight and other characteristics face a deluge of outright discrimination and unconscious bias.” Dr. Gail Christopher, WKKF’s vice president of program strategy, asserted that “before America can experience a society where all men, women and children are truly created equal, with equal opportunities, we must come to grips with racism” and the fact that “people of color are not proportionately represented in leadership roles of government or private industry.” Harvard University professor Stephan Thernstrom described AHI as “the largest single boondoggle ever created for the racial-grievance industry.”
“Racial equity” remains a leading concern of WKKF to this day. The Foundation continues to view America as a nation where “racial segregation and its attendant problems” cause “far too many children of color” to “live in racially isolated neighborhoods” where they experience such “disadvantages” as low earnings, lack of health insurance, limited “access to quality education,” “vast inequities in neighborhood and school environments,” “hig[h] incarceration rates,” “lo[w] healthy birth outcomes,” and “hig[h] rates of obesity, asthma, school failure, poverty and disability.” These issues, the Foundation maintains, can only be addressed effectively via “national systems-wide approaches” that “seek to inform and change hearts, minds and the deeply-held, often unconscious biases that are frequently at the core of structural racism.”
In a related effort, WKKF has funneled millions of dollars in grants to the Applied Research Center and other groups that produce propaganda aimed at convincing Americans that Voter IDinitiatives are racist.
Moreover, WKKF and the Annie E. Casey Foundation have established themselves as the two leading funders of efforts to promote the notion that America’s juvenile-justice system is a racist institution that deliberately, malevolently ensnares—on the smallest of pretexts—disproportionately large numbers of nonwhite youths. For instance, in 2008 the Kellogg Foundation announced that, as part of a $5 million initiative to advance racial justice, it was supporting a legal strategy designed to reduce the representation of minorities in juvenile prison facilities. This strategy hinged on a doctrine which stipulates that if policymakers implement rules that are known to have a disparate impact on a certain group—when alternatives that would not result in that same disparate impact are available—the policymakers are unjustly acting with “deliberate indifference” to that group’s constitutional rights.
WKKF’s major grantmaking programs today are the following:
WKKF’s income is derived primarily from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Trust, which was originally set up by the founder. In addition to its diversified portfolio, the Trust owns substantial equity in the Kellogg Company.
A Capital Research Center analysis concludes that a disproportionate share of the Kellogg Foundation’s philanthropic programs promote “stronger, more intrusive government”; a “Socialist trend” in politics; “a reflexive, deeply entrenched liberalism”; and the proliferation of “liberal activists and bureaucrats.” Among the noteworthy recipients of WKKF grants are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Aspen Institute, ACORN, Black Lives Matter, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund, Columbia University, the Council on Foundations, Duke University, the Earth Island Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, the International Development Exchange, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the NAACP, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the National Council of La Raza, National Public Radio, the National Urban League, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Save The Children Fund, State Voices, the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, the United Nations Foundation, the United States Student Association, the Urban Institute, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the World Resources Institute, World Vision International, and the World Wildlife Fund.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, click here.
For additional information on WKKF, click here.