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Celeste A. Clark – Board Chair

As painful and deeply challenging as the past two years have been for so many, we are presented with an opportunity and responsibility.


At this moment, we have before us the conditions ripe for creating real and lasting change. Nothing less than the boldest of actions are required to ensure every child thrives. The global pandemic laid bare massive and persistent gaps within our social, health and economic structures. With unprecedented access to on-demand information and racial tensions unresolved for generations, the divisiveness and civil unrest we have experienced seem insurmountable.
Yet, we must remain steadfast in the belief that communities know what’s best for their children to be successful in every facet and season of life.

It is more important than ever to stay true to the vision and values of our founder, Will Keith Kellogg, and to our purpose as a foundation. To my colleagues in the philanthropic community, we can truly execute the kind of change so many of us have yearned for if we work together. This will only take shape when we seriously examine the way we fulfill our fiduciary responsibilities as trustees by bringing our “whole” selves to fully engage in the work of our organizations. It begins with an understanding of establishing what we call an “authorizing environment,” which empowers leadership throughout organizations while at the same time encourages the critical voice of local leaders to solve their community’s problems.

As part of our annual snapshot of impact from the past year, you’ll hear from my fellow trustees as they highlight just a few innovative examples of our grantees who boldly rose to the occasion and met critical needs. What I hope you will notice is how each of these stories is so different and those differences are intentional.

We take seriously the importance of listening, as it is only in hearing a community’s priorities that we can truly support community-led solutions.
While their needs and solutions will look different, the thread that connects these narratives is our unwavering support for bold movements that are grounded in racial equity and racial healing, community engagement and leadership (our DNA).
This approach has roots in 2007 when the Kellogg Foundation board made the commitment to become an anti-racist organization. At that time, it was considered bold and courageous. With this support, our staff and our partners had the confidence to be very intentional in our work by addressing the primary obstacle to equitable progress – racism. Today, we continue to uphold our call for bold solutions in many ways and across many sectors:
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we committed to increasing our payout by approximately 50% or an additional $300 million over two fiscal years. To generate these funds, we took an innovative approach and issued a social impact bond. This signaled to our grantees and communities that we understood the immense challenges they faced, and we were agile in responding to the pace required in unprecedented times.

  • Recently, we announced 10 finalists from across the globe for our Racial Equity 2030 challenge, which is designed to build and scale ideas for transformative change. The response was overwhelming, showing the global community’s desire to achieve racial equity now. We will make five awards later this year.

  • We are bringing our expertise in racial equity to more than 50 companies participating in our Expanding Equity program, and the list of future cohorts continues to grow. These companies understand that the business and social imperatives to become more racially equitable, diverse and inclusive are clear. Participants are removing barriers and accelerating actions to increase representation and opportunity, and to create deeper connections and a culture of belonging for employees of color that includes hiring, promoting and retaining diverse talent.

With a full heart and great optimism, it is time for me to transition from service as board chair, but I will remain on the board as we work together to embrace all that is yet to come. I welcome fellow trustee Cathann Kress as our new board chair. I know Dr. Kress feels the great urgency of our mission and will partner with our trustees and our excellent staff to take our foundation to new heights.

This moment to step up and act boldly is only possible because of the original vision of Mr. Kellogg. Now is the time for transformation, not incrementalism. It’s not for the faint of heart. It will require big bold leaps, not baby steps. Leaders must foster an environment that allows for innovation, creativity and informed risks. Let bold action become your norm. At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, bold is in our DNA and we strive to embed it as part of our everyday actions — we hope you will join us.