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Kellogg Plans Return to Small-Scale Roots

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The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced plans to return to its roots: a renewed emphasis on community-based projects that foundation observers say could be a boon to precollegiate education.

Now the nation's second largest foundation, Kellogg's meteoric growth in the 1980's channeled funds to large organizations and national projects, said Jack Mawdsley, coordinator of the philanthropy's youth and higher-education division.

But the foundation's "1990's Programming Plan," approved by the foundation's board of directors last month, places emphasis on community projects reminiscent of Kellogg's first grants in the 1930's, which went to rural schools and hospitals.

"It's really not a new direction. It's an emphasis [on] and return to our roots," said Mr. Mawdsley, a former superintendent of schools in Battle Creek, Mich., where the foundation is based.

"We've always been interested in young people," he said. "Now we're going to put more resources" into projects benefiting them.

Kellogg does not lack for resources. The foundation went from assets totaling nearly $1.3 billion in 1984 to a high of $4.2 billion in 1989. Only the Ford Foundation ranks higher, according to the Foundation Center, a philanthopy clearinghouse.

The rise is attributed solely to the soaring value of the Kellogg Company's stock, according to William Fritz, the foundation's trea4surer. The foundation owns 34 percent of the stock in the breakfast-cereal company.

For a foundation the size of Kellogg, a grassroots emphasis is unusual, according to Mary Leonard, director of precollegiate education for the Council on Foundations. Other leading foundations--such as Ford, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation--are "decidedly un-grassrootsy," she said.

The Kellogg Foundation's shift in emphasis has "major implications for K-12 and prekindergarten" programs, Mr. Mawdsley said.

This decade, he said, Kellogg will solicit proposals for community-based education collaboratives involving at least two local agencies.

"People [in the community] are going to have to be involved in planning and implementation," he said.

The proposals "will have to be comprehensive," he continued, "not just a Band-Aid, simple, one-problem approach to a problem."

Specifically, Mr. Mawdsley said, Kellogg will look for proposals in8early-childhood education, elementary-level science education, teacher training, minority recruitment into science fields, job-training programs inside and outside schools, and initiatives for early adolescents, especially in community service.

The revisions of emphasis and grant-making procedures have been in the works for 15 months and should be available sometime next month, he said.

"Around here, people wouldn't say this is a major new direction," Mr. Mawdsley said, "but it's definitely a major expansion."

The Kellogg move is the latest in a series of expansions that have increased foundation contributions to precollegiate education from 2.7 percent of total foundation giving in 1984 to 3.5 percent in 1989, according to Loren Renz, director of research for the Foundation Center. (See Education Week, Feb. 24, 1988.)

Ms. Renz stressed that while that percentage change might not sound impressive, it represents a much larger boost in actual dollars, because total foundation giving more than doubled between 1984 and 1989.

Among the precollegiate initiatives, the MacArthur Foundation last October pledged $40 million to promote school reform in Chicago. The Lilly Endowment has nearly quadrupled its education and youth-program support, from $12 million in 1985 to $44 million in 1990.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund approved a new education fund in June, and the Pew Charitable Trusts last month approved new guidelines for education grants.

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