Five years ago, if I was asked what philanthropy meant to me, my answer would be dramatically different than it is today. My journey into this field began in 2018 as a member of the Young Women’s Cabinet of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota. This position allowed me to learn about a paid internship with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota as the Wenda Weekes Moore Intern. As an intern, I was able to spend four weeks at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in the summer, and to work at the Women’s Foundation during the school year. After five months with the Women’s Foundation, I left Minneapolis and arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan, in July 2019.
I spent my first two days onboarding and learning more about how the Foundation aligns its work today with the values of its founder, breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg. He believed that for children to thrive, their families and community must have support, and, to this day, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation follows this belief as the basis of their organizational mission. As I worked throughout the foundation, it was never a surprise to find all of its investments aligned with children, their families, and communities.
During this time, I worked with the employment equity program officer on systems change work. Together, my supervisor and those working in the same area provided me ample networking and learning opportunities that exposed me to the Foundation’s investments in creative initiatives throughout Battle Creek, Michigan, the United States, and internationally. For my final internship project, I drafted talking points for staff to highlight the Kellogg Foundation’s shared values between workforce development inequities in relation to children, communities, and families to its grantmaking. I researched data and the foundation’s grantees to identify how the Kellogg Foundation supports shifting traditional workforce development practices to become inclusive of individuals and their families who are impacted by the criminal justice system. This project allowed me to work across the foundation with communications, lead research on a topic I enjoy, think critically, and grow in new areas.
A unique characteristic of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that I found beneficial was the vast expertise that lives within the Foundation in Battle Creek, Detroit, and afar. Every day provided a new opportunity to learn from its employees: through evaluation, international and local program officers, to the executive leadership team.
A highlight of my experience was meeting the Kellogg Foundation’s CEO and president, La June Montgomery Tabron. Not only does she embrace new employees, she was genuinely interested in our experiences at the Foundation and in the city of Battle Creek. She welcomed questions, and so I asked, “What advice would you give your younger self?” She advised us to follow our passions, discover what drives us, and follow it.
Overall, my time with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation provided a time of clarity to prioritize my passions as I transition out of college and this internship. I’m grateful for the opportunity made possible by Wenda Weekes Moore, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and the Kellogg Foundation for investing in the futures of young women of color to explore philanthropy.
By Beyza Pierre, 2019 Wenda Weekes Moore Intern, Young Women’s Cabinet member