W.K. Kellogg Foundation:
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – Jackson Public Schools (JPS), the Community Foundation for Mississippi and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) today announced their continued partnership to transform the public education system in Jackson, Mississippi.
A three-year $3.5 million grant from WKKF to the community foundation will support teacher and school leadership capacity building, as well as virtual learning, for JPS. Teacher capacity building was prioritized in the district’s five-year strategic plan, which Superintendent Errick Greene shared in July 2019 after an 18-month community engagement process that started with the formation of the Better Together Commission.
“Our scholars are incredibly talented and many have developed big dreams of who they want to become and what they want to do,” Greene said. “They deserve an excellent education and this continued partnership with the Kellogg Foundation is evidence of a deep commitment to the scholars’ success. Essentially, we’re declaring how much we value them, how much we believe in their dreams, and that we remain committed to their success.”
In late 2017, in an unprecedented move, WKKF partnered with the Jackson community and then Gov. Phil Bryant to identify a pathway to support transformative change at JPS that ensures every student receives a high-quality education. One of the first steps was appointing 15 community leaders to the Better Together Commission to guide a community engagement process and conduct a student-centered audit of the district. The findings informed the district’s strategic plan.
Greene said WKKF’s funding will help JPS implement its strategic plan, while also being responsive to unplanned needs created by COVID-19. He said teacher capacity building will enable JPS to provide a more compelling and rigorous education, while also addressing any learning gaps. It also will equip teachers with effective teaching practices and help the district address students’ social-emotional learning needs, which has become more critical during the pandemic.
“We’re proud to continue to stand with Dr. Greene and the children and families of Jackson Public Schools,” said Rhea Williams-Bishop, director of programs for Mississippi and New Orleans for the Kellogg Foundation. “The transformation of Jackson Public Schools will take time and will take resources, beyond what any one foundation can support. My hope is that other funders - recognizing Dr. Greene’s strong vision and leadership, especially in the face of the most challenging of times – lean into the need and opportunity in Jackson.”
Greene said the grant will help build a stronger teacher and leader pipeline and enable the district to recognize and invest in educators in ways other than through pay increases, which are extremely difficult in the face of state funding shortfalls. Up to 25% of teachers annually leave JPS, which is the second largest district in the state with about 22,000 students. He said reducing turnover is key to ensuring students have a stable learning environment throughout their education.
Jane Alexander, Community Foundation for Mississippi president and CEO, said the community’s continued engagement in the district’s transformation is a catalyst for meaningful change in Jackson and throughout the state.
“JPS students are our future leaders and we need to support this transformation to create the opportunity we want for our children and our community in the years to come,” Alexander said.
About Jackson Public Schools
Jackson Public Schools (JPS) is the second-largest school district in Mississippi, serving approximately 22,000 scholars, representing more than 80% of school-aged children in the state's capital and only urban municipality. With a firm belief in the importance of equity, excellence, growth mindset, relationships, relevance, and positive and respectful cultures, JPS works to develop scholars through world-class learning experiences to attain an exceptional knowledge base, critical and relevant skill sets, and the necessary dispositions for great success.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
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.
About the Community Foundation for Mississippi
The Community Foundation for Mississippi is a nonprofit foundation that helps charitable donors establish permanent giving funds that reflect their interests while also making a long-term, positive impact on the community. The foundation also serves the nonprofit community by managing and growing their endowments and offering best practice management advice. The Community Foundation for Mississippi holds more than $57 million in charitable assets and directly serves 22 counties across the state. Since 1994, the foundation has granted more than $59 million to improve the lives of people in our community.