“I think there’s a story to tell about how you heal a community and take them through a journey of understanding how racial equity must undergird any effort to improve and transform. If you don’t deal with the root cause dynamics of racial equity, you’re not going to build a lasting transformation.”

Working Side-by-Side in Battle Creek, Michigan

The history of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is grounded in Battle Creek and fueled by the legacy of Will Keith Kellogg. Children have been at the heart of our work since 1930. But children live in families and families live in communities and achieving strong outcomes for children happens by connecting what families need at home and in their communities. Our focus at WKKF on thriving children, working families and equitable communities grew from Mr. Kellogg’s desire to improve the health, happiness and well-being of children. For more than 90 years, we have worked in partnership with Battle Creek to serve its children.

Mr. Kellogg’s personal connections to his hometown shaped his deep belief in the capacity of people to solve their own problems. Our experiences working side-by-side with community leaders in Battle Creek and elsewhere have shaped our vision of what real change looks like. Today, we recognize that communities need three things to create lasting change for children: racial equity, community engagement and leadership. These ingredients of change are embedded in every aspect of our work at WKKF.

We are proud of our shared history with the Battle Creek community. And when we think about the future of our hometown, we think of our children — the leaders, educators, innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. For Battle Creek to have the vibrant and equitable future we know it can, we must ensure a high-quality education for every child.

That is why in 2017, WKKF announced an unprecedented commitment to Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS). The five-year, $51 million investment is funding a comprehensive, equity-informed transformation to achieve success for every student in the district. It includes exciting, top-to-bottom changes to support students, parents, teachers and school staff, such as new programs, enrichment opportunities and strong partnerships with the surrounding community.

Understanding Racial Inequities in Battle Creek

Battle Creek Residents (%)

Battle Creek Public School Students (%)

WKKF made this historic commitment to BCPS students after a 2017 New York University study of the community’s education system unearthed significant disinvestments in BCPS, which compared to surrounding districts has higher needs and fewer resources. The study revealed that racial bias and segregation, compounded by income inequality, had concentrated poverty in BCPS among people of color, causing further economic and racial divisions. It also revealed achievement gaps between BCPS and other Battle Creek area school districts in educational metrics such as test scores, grade-level reading and graduation rates.

BCPS became a clear case study of how school choice policies and a legacy of racial segregation can severely disadvantage a school district and an entire community of children.

Download the Reports

This site tracks the full transformation of BCPS thus far. If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into lessons learned from each year of the transformation, view and download the corresponding year’s report.

About Battle Creek Public Schools

WKKF’s grant supports the district’s strategic plan, called “Six Goals for Greatness,” which includes hiring new staff and rolling out a number of new academic programs for students, incentives for teachers and partnerships with the community.

Since 2017, BCPS has made major strides to bring the community together toward the common goal of 100% success for every Bearcat. In launching new initiatives and programs, rolling out trauma-informed individualized support for students, bringing in top-tier teaching talent and more, BCPS works to ensure that transformation is underway for every student, in every grade, in every school.

Keys of Transformation

The journey to transform BCPS is centered on ensuring equitable educational opportunities for all students, setting them up for success in career, college and the community. Over the past couple of years, our partnership has focused on three keys to transformation: