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W.K. Kellogg Foundation gives $5M to SPH


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has provided a $5 million grant to support a new School of Public Health (SPH) undertaking, "The Crossroads of Public Health." The project represents both a physical space and an innovative approach to public health research and teaching, with a focus on working with the community.

In the community-based method, the school works closely with organizations and the public to identify and study health issues, and to design and implement programs to address them. SPH long has worked with partners in Detroit, Flint and communities throughout northern Michigan to address concerns such as asthma, diabetes, infant mortality, dental health, youth violence and tobacco prevention.

In its physical manifestation, Community Crossroads is the name being given to a 125,000-square-foot addition linking two existing buildings that comprise SPH. It is slated for completion in 2006. The Community Crossroads will house a "partners room" to give a home base to community and practice partners when they come to campus for teaching and research. The facility will provide new video conferencing and distance learning technology tools to connect community organizations and their representatives with the school.

The Kellogg grant also will make it possible to install sophisticated information technology at facilities in the communities where partners are located. The technology hubs will provide equipment for video conferencing and distance learning that will better connect communities with SPH resources. In addition, the Kellogg-supported technology hubs will allow SPH to phase in community-based public health work beyond Michigan borders.

"We are excited about this opportunity to support the University of Michigan in this creative approach to narrowing the gap between communities and public health institutions and making academic public health transparent and accessible to underserved communities," says Terri Wright, Kellogg Foundation program director for the project.

In the Community Crossroads, a two-story center will house classrooms, conference rooms, outreach programs, interdisciplinary research centers, communication hubs, an atrium café and other amenities to foster the interaction of people, ideas and disciplines. Rising above the center will be seven floors housing modern open laboratories, instructional spaces, student and faculty interaction spaces, and offices.

The facility will support a broader series of programs designed to build on the school's nationally recognized work in community-based public health, and to establish a new model of academic public health that uses technology to strengthen and expand collaborative teaching and research.

The Community Crossroads is the capstone of an SPH initiative to foster innovations in research, teaching and service, and to strengthen the ability of communities throughout the world to promote the public's health. The school has established a network of 19 academic research centers designed to facilitate interdisciplinary approaches to complicated problems ranging from the uninsured to asthma to genetics, and it has launched an ambitious program to recruit a new generation of junior faculty.

"The Crossroads reflects the school's longstanding tradition of interdisciplinarity and heralds our future direction," SPH Dean Noreen Clark says. "Community-based public health is one of our finest examples of how disciplines come together to develop an effective, novel approach to addressing public health problems. The Crossroads is designed to foster these ends at their optimum."

The Kellogg Foundation gift and a $5 million anonymous donation received earlier this year are among the early major contributions toward the SPH fund-raising campaign.

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.

To achieve the greatest impact, the foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include: health, food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within these areas, attention is given to exploring learning opportunities in leadership; information and communication technology; capitalizing on diversity; and social and economic community development. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

For further information, visit the foundation's Web site, http://www.wkkf.org.

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