By Chris Kieffer
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has launched a new fellowship that will choose up to 25 Mississippi residents and help them implement projects to aid vulnerable children and their families.
Its Community Leadership Network initiative will select a total of 100 fellows from the foundation’s U.S. priority places – Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico and New Orleans. They will spend three years sharpening leadership skills, learning as a cohort and working in small groups to develop community projects.
Another 20 fellows will be selected from outside these priority places and will focus on racial healing and equity.
“I hope we look back and we see we have altered some of the policy conditions,” said Esther Nieves, program officer with the WKKF who will oversee the fellowship. “I hope that we increase the leadership voices in the state, and that we see new circles of leadership that are much more inclusive and representative of the needs of communities.”
The fellowship targets both established and emerging community leaders. Applicants need only be at least 23 years old and interested in working with others to do work that helps vulnerable children and their families.
More information and applications are available at www.wkkf.org/leadership. The deadline is Jan. 10.
Fellows will receive a stipend of $20,000 and will be reimbursed for their travel and accommodation expenses for the quarterly cohort meetings. They also will receive $5,000 to execute their project in the third year of their fellowship.
The foundation is making a six-year commitment to the program, which will support three classes and up to 360 individuals.
It has helped more than 1,300 leaders though its fellowship programs though the years. That list includes Dr. Lessa Phillips, chief medical officer for the United Healthcare Community Plan of Mississippi.
Phillips studied the history of oppression and racism in four nations during the early 1990s, an opportunity that fueled her passion for eliminating health care disparities in the state, she said.
“It was an incredible experience, and I’m just thrilled the foundation is bringing back this sort of experience for young leadership in our state,” she said.
“I hope to see a strong cadre of leaders who can change public policy in this state to benefit everyone and who will keep core values of equity and fairness and kindness toward everyone in this state.”
This is the WKKF’s first large, signature leadership development program since 2000.