Southwest Michigan First Receives $600,000 Grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Funds will allow Southwest Michigan First to expand community, economic and workforce development projects in southwest Michigan with a focus on Calhoun County.

Kalamazoo, Michigan – Southwest Michigan First has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to accelerate implementation of their new strategic plan, The Path to Regional Prosperity. Launched in January of 2023, the plan is a multi-year roadmap for enhancing regional collaboration, driving economic growth and providing equitable opportunities for individuals, families and businesses in three foundational areas:

• Economic development – retaining businesses and helping them expand and grow, while attracting new companies to the region
• Community development – advocating for, enhancing and promoting vibrant communities and business environments so that everyone has the chance to thrive
• Workforce development – enhancing, preparing and aligning our workforce to meet both current and future demands in the new talent economy

The grant aligns with Southwest Michigan First’s mission to increase economic prosperity for all in southwest Michigan and builds on WKKF’s efforts to promote thriving, equitable communities for working families and children.

“At W.K. Kellogg Foundation, children are at the heart of everything we do,” said WKKF Director of Michigan Programs, Faye Nelson. “In order for children to thrive, their families have to have access to good-paying, career pathway jobs, and their communities need to be equitable places of opportunity. This investment in Southwest Michigan First will support collaboration across the region to achieve those goals.”

“At Southwest Michigan First, we believe economic development is a team sport and we’re thrilled to team up with W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Thanks to their support, we’ll be able to accelerate economic development work across the region, and especially in Calhoun County,” said Jonas Peterson, CEO of Southwest Michigan First.

To learn more about Southwest Michigan First’s strategic action plan, download a copy of The Path to Regional Prosperity here. All focus areas of the strategic action plan include an ongoing commitment to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion.

Southwest Michigan First is an organization of privately funded economic development advisors who act as the catalyst for economic success in Southwest Michigan. Founded in 1999 on the principle that the greatest force for change is a job, the organization works across all industries throughout the seven counties making up the Southwest Michigan region.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally are in Mexico and Haiti.