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$42M Grant Opens Doors For Minorities


POMONA, CA -The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded $42 million for an endowment at Cal Poly Pomona to increase access to educational opportunities, the largest cash gift in the history of the California State University system.

“In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of our founder, W.K. Kellogg, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is proud that this grant will benefit Cal Poly Pomona in its efforts to extend and bolster educational opportunities for current and aspiring students,” said Sterling K. Speirn, the foundation’s president and CEO.  “Mr. Kellogg was a strong believer in higher education, and his vision of ‘investing in people’ has translated into the foundation’s fundamental belief that access to a high-quality education is vital to enhancing the lives of vulnerable youth.”

This challenge grant, to be given over five years, significantly bolsters the university’s ability to reach out and serve underrepresented communities in Southern California, including first-generation college students and their families, military veterans and emancipated foster youth.

“This will be transformational,” University President Michael Ortiz said. “With these resources we will be able to change lives and contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the region. The CSUs have long been the gateway to opportunity for generations of Californians, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is helping to ensure that the gateway remains open.”

The gift comes at a challenging time for public universities in California, with state support shrinking and concern over the future of higher education growing. With this contribution to the university’s endowment, the foundation is making an important investment in expanding access to education for all students. 

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s mission is to support children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society,” Speirn said. “As the 12th most ethnically diverse university in the United States, Cal Poly Pomona’s deep commitment to and track record of providing access to quality college education for students of color strongly aligns with the foundation’s work to support racial healing and to remove systemic barriers that hold some children back.”

Cal Poly Pomona has long strived to reach out to young people who have grown up thinking that college is for other people. University-sponsored programs in neighboring multiethnic communities help families understand the pivotal role they play in their children’s academic success. Other efforts focus on teaching elementary school teachers how to tap their students’ interest and potential in science, engineering and math. One of the university’s most significant outreach efforts, the Renaissance Scholars program, nurtures its most at-risk students, recently emancipated foster youth.

“Cal Poly Pomona became my home,” said Stephanie Serrano, a Renaissance Scholar who graduated this spring. “It was the most stable place I had.”

Serrano saw many youth fall through the cracks during her time in the foster care system. Now, she plans to make a career helping young people overcome obstacles that cause them to lose hope.

“Hopefully,” she said, “I’ll inspire other youth to stop that cycle.”

Military veterans will also benefit from the endowment gift.

The Troops to College initiative, instituted last year, helps veterans navigate what can be a very different and at times intimidating culture. Cal Poly Pomona has made a commitment to serve what is expected to be a growing number of veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other postings.

“Veterans have earned their right to an education, and we embrace their growing numbers on campus,” Ortiz said. “The Kellogg Foundation gift will enable us to better meet their needs.”

The gift will also benefit faculty by ensuring that more students are prepared to thrive in the classroom and in their many learn-by-doing opportunities. Such students add to the university’s learning community, joining with teacher-scholars to advance knowledge.
"The Kellogg Foundation has been a remarkable benefactor for Cal Poly Pomona and the CSU," said Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "This gift will make an extraordinary difference in the lives of countless students, and we are extremely grateful that they have chosen us for this unprecedented showing of generosity."

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Kellogg’s family share a rich history with Cal Poly Pomona. In the 1920s, the breakfast cereal pioneer established a winter home in the rolling hills of what is now the northern edge of the campus. He invited the public to the ranch to enjoy performances by his prized Arabian horses, which he lent to Hollywood for use in movies. In 1949, two years before Kellogg’s death, the foundation deeded the land to California’s state college system for use as a campus, reflecting his belief that “education offers the greatest opportunity for really improving one generation over another.” 

The university, originally an extension of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, became an independent campus in 1966, and over the years the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has supported numerous endeavors, including scholarships, enhancement of the university’s Interdisciplinary General Education department, and support for the study of emerging technologies that address issues related to food systems, the environment and other natural resources.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is proud to honor the memory of our founder with this historic grant to Cal Poly Pomona,” Speirn added. “We are deeply committed to advancing opportunities for vulnerable youth, and with this grant we will extend educational opportunities for students from underrepresented communities for years to come.”

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, visit

About Cal Poly Pomona
Striking a balance between urban excitement and rural charm, Cal Poly Pomona is nestled in 1,438 rolling acres in the heart of Southern California. With 3,000 faculty and staff to serve more than 20,000 students, Cal Poly Pomona’s mission is to advance knowledge by linking theory and practice while preparing students for leadership and careers in a multicultural world. The university seeks to place learning at the center of every program, course, and activity on campus. Students can apply their knowledge through hands-on projects, collaborate with faculty members on research, and participate in valuable internships and service learning programs. Eight colleges (agriculture; business administration; education; engineering; environmental design; hospitality management; letters, arts and social sciences; and science) offer 56 undergraduate and 23 graduate degrees, as well as 8 credential programs.


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