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Kellogg Foundation launches $16.5 million program to help rural communities use new communications technology



August 4, 1997

Kellogg Foundation Launches $16.5 Million 
Program to Manage Information with Rural America

Today, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, announced
the launching of a $16.5 million initiative called
Managing Information with Rural America (MIRA). The five-year effort is
designed to help people in rural communities determine
how technology can be used to address the growing concerns of rural
populations on such matters as economic development,
education, health, and leadership.

Each year, over the lifespan of the initiative, five groups of community
teams in the United States, 10 to 15 community support
organizations, and three policy support organizations will receive grants
from the Foundation to effectively use electronic
communications and information systems.

Support to the five groups of community teams will focus on building their
capacity to determine their appropriate uses for
technology in their locale. Specifically, the selected groups will receive
up to $200,000 to manage workshops and a pool of grants for
implementation of local projects. The workshops will help them to prepare
proposals and to implement community technology
projects. This approach will help ensure broad community involvement in
the process of designing the projects.

Selected community support organizations also will be eligible to receive
up to $125,000 in funds to explore the uses of technology as
a vehicle to deliver services more effectively. Community support
organizations are those that support community groups through
direct services in training, technical assistance, leadership development,
or civic participation activities. This also will include
organizations in rural communities which develop or capitalize on economic
opportunities such as workforce development,
microenterprise development, and access to capita.

In the first year only, up to three national policy support groups also
will be eligible for funding. Their effort will be expected to be
directed at helping rural communities understand and learn to work in the
policy environment so the full power of citizen
participation and responsibility can be harnessed. To do this, the policy
groups will receive funding to use technology to serve rural
communities and to receive information from rural communities in an
effective, inclusive way. In the following three years of the
initiative, local and regional policy support groups will receive funding.

"We recognize that people in rural communities have reservoirs of
strengths and resources," said Caroline Carpenter, a program
director in food systems and rural development and leader of the MIRA
initiative at the Kellogg Foundation. "We want communities
to match their strengths and their civic commitment with uses of
electronic communications and information systems," she said.

In the design of MIRA, Carpenter explained that the Kellogg Foundation is
trying to build individual and community capacity for
change and adaptability.

"MIRA is about people, not technology," she said. "MIRA will focus on ways
to help rural communities to use technology to go
beyond traditional boundaries. It also will create new partnerships and
provide support along the way. Technology is expected to be
an important tool in helping to reconnect rural communities to the larger
issues of society, but it is not the only focus of this effort.
In fact we do not expect these grants to be used to purchase equipment,
and one could participate on the teams without experience
with technology."

Carpenter also noted that MIRA is part of a larger rural development
program at the Kellogg Foundation that is dedicated to
preserving and nurturing rural communities across the country. It is based
on a belief that a healthy rural America is essential to the
long-term well being of the nation.

She indicated that the Kellogg Foundation would be issuing a Request for
Proposals in August. This document details how interested
communities and organizations can apply for grants. Additionally, she
noted that there would be orientation sessions in Charleston,
WV, Manchester, NH, Albuquerque, NM, Lincoln, NE, and Spokane, WA in
September.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help
themselves through the practical application of knowledge
and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future
generations." Its programming activities center around the common
visions of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts
responsibility for self, family, community, and societal
well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create
nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy
communities.

To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants toward
specific focal points or areas. These include: health; food
systems and rural development; youth and education, and higher education;
and philanthropy and volunteerism. When woven
throughout these areas, funding also is provided for leadership;
information systems/technology; effort to capitalize on diversity; and
family, neighborhood, and community development programming. Grants are
concentrated in the United States, Latin America and
the Caribbean, and five southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho,
South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

For more information about the MIRA program, or to obtain a copy of the
Request for Proposals, contact 888/264-6662 or visit our
web site at http://www.wkkf.org.