La June

A Shift in Consciousness, the Skillset for Change

La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO

Community engagement, racial equity and leadership – our DNA. A very few syllables in our shorthand, and easy to say. But they represent a very long learning journey. 

In my three decades at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, it has been a continuous process. In our collective almost 90 years, the learning has been cumulative and the shift in consciousness a response to growing awareness of what is required to open pathways to change.

Our founder, Will Keith Kellogg, envisioned children healthy, happy and approaching the future with confidence. His vision for children encompassed identity, belonging and safety – for the individual child, as well as for their families and communities. Our deep grounding in community has its roots in that vision and in the voices of grantees. Through community experience, we see the powerful interplay between racial equity and identity in children. We feel how community engagement forms trusting relationships and the sense of safety that leads to healing conversations. We recognize that leadership rests on the identity, safety and confidence needed to take action on behalf of others.

“How can we help people see what they don’t see?”

Today we recognize that those three essentials, when woven together, represent a new theory of change – one that is practical, relevant and already shifting the consciousness of our partners. Our DNA is not something we fund, but something we do – foundational skills embedded in every aspect of our programming.

In the grantee stories you will read, we offer live examples of our DNA in action – how weaving them into our programming is changing the partnerships, practices and policies that emerge through our work on behalf of children.

Our DNA in partnerships …

A visionary urban greenspace in Richmond, Virginia, is attracting a wide range of partners to local Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation efforts. Here in Battle Creek, Michigan, a groundbreaking partnership involving Grand Valley State University and Battle Creek Public Schools is opening pathways to learning and opportunity. In New Mexico, food sovereignty partnerships are engaging Native American farmers and reshaping sustainable practices. Nationally, investing with a racial equity lens is sparking innovative partnerships that are widening equitable opportunity.

Our DNA in practices …

In New Orleans, Louisiana, trauma-informed care is reorienting practice approaches to children in schools and care settings both locally and nationwide. A scholarship program in Haiti that changes the calculus on who receives higher education is effectively returning more leaders to their communities. Hiring and advancement practices at a health system in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are spurring changes at the national level. A national collaboration with the American Library Association on racial equity and healing inspired a librarian in Zion, Illinois, to draw high school students, civic leaders and law enforcement into a conversation that is changing the local narrative about racial equity.

Our DNA in policies ...

The momentum shift in the Dental Therapy effort over the past year holds lessons for how health equity can fuel a national change movement. And across the U.S., policy efforts to remove barriers to employment for the more than 600,000 men and women returning to their communities from state and federal prisons are creating practical, scalable approaches to change.

How can we help people see what they don’t see? That is the challenge for all of us – and the opportunity of our DNA in action.

On a personal level, racial equity, community engagement and developing leadership change how we look at the world. In relationships and in community work, our DNA hold the skillset for authentic, truthful conversations that get to root causes and lift up different approaches.

Advances and setbacks are part of the journey, as all of us engaged in this work recognize. But we continue to strive toward the ideal because when we do, we tap into the power and energy that lead to thriving children, working families and equitable communities. In this 2019 Annual Report, our grantees share their strides and illustrate the impact of our collective journey. We invite you to join us!