Caare101 Spotlight #2: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

June 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Kellog Foundation LogoWill Kellogg retired in 1929 as president of the W. K. Kellogg Company. He remained as chairman of the board until 1946. During this time he became increasingly involved with philanthropic activities. As early as 1925, he had formed the Fellowship Corporation to foster agricultural training. In 1930 he established the W. K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation after having been named a delegate to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection by President Herbert Hoover. The Child Welfare Foundation then became the W. K. Kellogg Foundation; it remains one of the leading charitable institutions in the United States, donating more than $4.5 billion dollars between 1930 and 2006. The foundation has continued to focus on children’s welfare; Kellogg strongly supported educating children and giving them the means to achieve independence and security because he believed the future of humanity depended upon it.

Kellogg spent his last years living mostly in California. He owned a horse ranch in Pomona and left this property to California State Polytechnic College for use as a campus. He was opposed to leaving his wealth to his children for fear that doing so would stifle their own ambition and independence. Kellogg died in Battle Creek on October 6, 1951.

Will Kellogg’s legacy is twofold. First, his creation of the wheat flake and then the cornflake transformed the way people in America and all around the world start the day. The cereal industry that grew up in Battle Creek began with Kellogg’s experiments at the sanitarium and soon expanded into the W. K. Kellogg Company. Today packaged breakfast foods can be found in nearly every kitchen in America and many other parts of the world. Over the years Kellogg expanded its offerings to include other convenience foods such as crackers, cookies, and meat substitutes. Among the company’s many brands are Keebler, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-It, Morningstar Farms, Famous Amos, Chips Deluxe, and Eggo. The company’s trademarked figures Tony the Tiger, Ernie Keebler, and others are among the most recognized characters in advertising.

Second, his philanthropic commitment led to one of the largest, most far-reaching charitable institutions in the world, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. With headquarters in Battle Creek, the foundation makes grants to programs and projects relating to health, agriculture, and education in an effort to help people around the world gain independence. Will Kellogg was in the vanguard of early-20th-century entrepreneurs who embraced philanthropy as a way to address society’s ills. His foundation served as a model for the great number of private charitable institutions that would appear across the United States in the economic boom years following the end of World War II in 1945.