The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is the seventh largest private foundation in the United States, and the largest nonprofit in Michigan. Founded by Will Keith Kellogg in 1930, the Battle Creek, Michigan foundation was originally called the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation and spent decades funding educational and health-related programs and facilities to benefit disadvantaged children in poor and rural areas.
The foundation began broadening its scope to explicitly race-based causes starting with the African American Men and Boys Initiative in 1992. Today, tens of millions of dollars in Kellogg Foundation grants fund initiatives such as the National Day of Racial Healing and Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. The foundation also invests in film and television projects that feature racial issue-based content.
In addition, the Kellogg Foundation awards grants to a number of left-of-center organizations such as the Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
History and Mission
Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg retired as president of the Kellogg Company in 1929 but served as the company’s board chairman until 1946. He founded the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation in 1930, which was later shortened to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In 1934, Kellogg donated more than $66 million in company stock and other investments to the W. K. Kellogg Trust, which in turn funds the foundation.
The foundation focused its initial operations within a seven-county area near Kellogg’s Battle Creek, Michigan, hometown. Through its Michigan Community Health Project, the foundation built health clinics and community hospitals and conducted medical screening programs. During World War II, the federal government urged the foundation to offer health professional fellowships to Latin Americans to study in the U.S. After the war, the foundation began making grants around the world.
In August 2007, the Kellogg Foundation board of trustees approved a ten year, $100 million plan from the foundation’s endowment for mission-related investing. In a 2010 interview, A Kellogg Foundation director explained this type of investment would be in companies that pursue the Foundation’s view of “good,” such as clean technology or green energy.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation is headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, where it is funded mostly by the W.K. Kellogg Trust, and operates as a subsidiary of the cereal company.
Its focus areas in the United States are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans. Its international focus areas are in Mexico and Haiti.
The foundation’s corporate structure includes president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron; a chief operating officer; chief strategy officer; chief policy and communications officer; general counsel and corporate secretary; and eight vice presidents. These leadership positions are among the 186 staff members currently listed on the foundation website. Federal tax filings reported the foundation had 187 employees who made more than $50,000 per year as of August 31, 2017.
The foundation receives most of its investment from W.K. Kellogg Trust, which had $7,822,446,809 in total assets as of August 31, 2017. During that year, the Trust funded the Kellogg Foundation with $387,000,000.
In the tax year ending August 31, 2017, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation distributed $342,983,784 in grants. The cash distributions for charitable activities totaled $434 million; $370 million were for grant payments and program-related expenses.
Kellogg Foundation grants initially supported the intent of its founder, W.K. Kellogg, which was helping underprivileged children receive health care and education. The foundation broadened its scope in 1992 to include racial equity with a $15 million grant for the African American Men and Boys Initiative, and again in 2007 when the foundation board formalized its mission to be “an effective antiracist organization that promotes racial equity.” And in a January 2018 interview with NPR, Kellogg Foundation president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron said the foundation has dedicated itself to “ending structural racism.” 
The Kellogg Foundation has spent billions on race-based initiatives and alliances with left-wing organizations and causes, such as the Equal Justice Society. In 2016, the Kellogg Foundation gave a three-year, $900,000 grant to Berkeley, California-based Thousand Currents to build “the infrastructure and capacity of the national #BlackLivesMatter.” The Kellogg Foundation also contributes to other left-wing groups such as Center for Community Change that support illegal immigrants and actively work against conservative and Republican politicians.
The top progressive recipients of Kellogg Foundation money have been the Tides Foundation and its subsidiary, the Tides Center. These donor-advised funds pass money from individuals and organizations to liberal organizations, netting $49,015,834 in Kellogg Foundation grants between 1991-2018.
Notable Kellogg Foundation grantees:
W.K. Kellogg Foundation Notable Grantees (1991-2018)
|Tides Foundation/Tides Center||$49,015,834||1991-2018|
|Applied Research Center (Race Forward)||$14,900,000||2019-2022|
|Center for Community Change||$8,212,000||2008-2018|
|My Brother’s Keeper Alliance||$5,000,000||2016-2017|
|ACLU (National and state chapters)||$4,615,000||2000-2018|
|Center for American Progress||$4,255,744||2015-2020|
|Center for Social Inclusion||$3,503,000||2012-2019|
|Equal Justice Society||$2,400,000||2009-2019|
|Thousand Currents (Black Lives Matter)||$900,000||2016-2019|
|Southern Poverty Law Center||$700,000||2010-2015|
|Center for Equitable Growth||$395,625||2016-2017|
|Open Society Institute (Open Society Foundations)||$200,000||2010-2012|
Racial and Ethnic Interest Advocacy
America Healing Initiative
The Kellogg Foundation created the America Healing initiative in 2007 as part of the board of directors’ commitment to end structural racism. America Healing started as a five-year, $75 million initiative that provided funds to “anchor” civil rights organizations including the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS), the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the National Urban League, Race Forward, and the National Congress of American Indians. The groups met quarterly to strategize ways to dismantle structural racism in America.
Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Initiative
The Kellogg Foundation launched its Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation initiative (TRHT) in 2016, touting it as a national process to help people heal from the effects of racism. The Foundation will award ten grants for $24 million over the next two to five years to build racial healing coalitions in 14 locations throughout the country. The main focus of TRHT is to rid communities of “deeply held, and often unconscious beliefs that undergird racism – the main one being the belief in a hierarchy of human value.”
National Day of Racial Healing Initiative
The Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation initiative held its first annual National Day of Racial Healing on January 17, 2017, in several cities around the country. Many left-wing civil rights organizations took part including the Advancement Project, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, PICO, Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and Race Forward. These W.K. Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Anchor Institutions (“The Anchors”) assisted in the foundation’s second National Day of Racial Healing held January 16, 2018.
2016 tax filings show the Kellogg Foundation contributed $3,567,387 to the Macro Content Fund I, LLC, for the purpose of using traditional media to influence narratives about racial and gender equity. The foundation followed with a $5 million grant in 2017. Macro Content Fund is a private investment fund that finances film and television productions about people of color. In October 2017, Kellogg, along with the Ford Foundation, Libra Foundation, and the Emerson Collective led by Apple heiress Laurene Powell Jobs, added $150 million in financing to the Macro Content Fund to help fund four to six film and television productions per year. Macro is headed up by Charles King, former talent agent to a number of high profile entertainers including Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry; King told Variety in July 2018 that Macro-backed productions are of added importance because people of color are “frequent political targets of President Trump.”
La June Montgomery Tabron has been president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since 2014, when she replaced the retiring Sterling Speirn. Prior to assuming the foundation presidency, Tabron spent 26 years with the foundation, first as financial controller, then treasurer, and executive vice president of operations. Tabron’s 2017 total compensation was $829,818.
Gail Christopher was the former Senior Advisor and architect for the Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Initiative until retiring at the end of 2017. Christopher’s 2017 total compensation was $447,301.