Battle Creek shines as nation’s first Beacon Community

Local leaders and The Harwood Institute to tackle social ills in new, collaborative ways

Battle Creek, Mich. (February 28, 2013) – Grassroots and community leaders are joining with The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region on a three-year initiative targeting social issues. This collaboration, funded with a $1.4 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will make Battle Creek the first-ever Beacon Community – a national model for uniting individuals and organizations in applying Harwood practice principles to address community challenges.

“Tackling the most pressing issues we face, from education to employment to health care, depends on every facet of the community engaging in meaningful ways,” said Michael Larson, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR). “In coming together as a Beacon Community, Battle Creek will demonstrate how people can create change on issues that matter.”

The process begins March 5-7, when community leaders in Battle Creek gather at the McCamly Plaza Hotel for the Harwood Public Innovators Lab. This three-day immersion in the core elements of the Harwood practice will equip the attending leaders with the tools and approach for identifying and addressing social issues in the next three years.

Participants include leaders from UWBCKR, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Battle Creek, BC Pulse, Project 20/20 and many other organizations.

“We chose Battle Creek as the first Beacon Community because of the great partnership potential we’ve seen here through our work with the community over the past five years,” said Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. “People working together for the common good is a constant theme in Battle Creek. We believe this approach will achieve more impact, and we want to replicate our innovation with Battle Creek in other communities across the country.”

To find out more about Beacon Communities, please visit The Harwood Institute’s page.


About The Harwood Institute:

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works with individuals and organizations to lead social change in their communities. Founded by Richard C. Harwood, the Institute has leveraged its 25 years of on-the-ground experience and innovation in communities along with its national partnerships to become a leading change organization.  The Institute is recognized nationally for its unique approach to breaking down barriers and empowering people to make tangible progress in improving their communities. For more information, please visit


About the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region:

United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region mobilizes the caring power of the community to advance the common good. Created in 2012 through the merger of the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and the United Way of Greater Battle Creek, and now the second largest United Way in Michigan, UWBCKR engages people across the region to address the most pressing needs in education, income and health.


About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation:

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, 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, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis 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. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Jim Cooney - The Harwood Institute - - 301.656.3669

Chris Sargent - United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region – – 269.441.1723