Case Study

Building Grantee Capacity for Strategic Communications

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Challenge

For 10 years, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has counted on Fenton to support a wide range of initiatives from education to immigrant rights and grantee capacity building to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities throughout the nation.

As part of their landmark $51 million grant to Michigan’s Battle Creek Public Schools, the Foundation brought Fenton on as the district’s ongoing communications partner, helping the district shift negative public perception, build community trust and reverse declining enrollment by re-engaging local families.

When reports indicated that a large percentage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients had not filed for renewal a week before an underpublicized deadline, the Foundation brought in Fenton to develop and deploy an eleventh-hour outreach campaign that supported the efforts of nonprofits in three states to dispel fear around the application process and encourage eligible Dreamers to apply.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation places a premium on building and strengthening the communications skills of their grantees to become more powerful advocates and changemakers. They have consistently engaged Fenton to build the capacity of their nonprofit partners through communications support and training.

Our Approach

Fenton provides the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and their grantees with a wide range of strategic communications services, tools and campaigns that are tailored to meet overall goals and resonate with target audiences.

In Battle Creek, we provide strategic counsel while helping rebuild the District’s reputation, implement crisis communications strategies and raise awareness of progress. We’re also capturing the student, parent, staff and community voices, enabling WKKF to share lessons that can help guide transformation efforts in other communities.

To support the Foundation’s DACA efforts, we developed and deployed a coordinated, bilingual outreach campaign in three states that combined paid and earned media with digital tools and grantee communications support to increase knowledge of the deadline and spur applications.

In our most recent grantee communications capacity building program, we developed and implemented a comprehensive curriculum and support effort that included monthly trainings on key topics such as communications strategy, message development, digital communications, storytelling, rapid and crisis response, along with other topics to enable the Foundation’s partners to grow their communications skills.


In each case, Fenton played a critical role in helping the W.K. Kellogg Foundation support and strengthen their partners while making a lasting impact with their grantmaking.

In Battle Creek, we launched an all-new district website which increased visits 35% and placed numerous, positive stories in the local media, which resulted in increased awareness of the great new opportunities for students across the district. Fenton’s multi-platform digital ad campaigns have garnered millions of impressions and helped drive towards district enrollment goals.

The DACA campaign was an overwhelming success, launching an integrated campaign that in just one week generated more than 3.5 million impressions and generated news coverage in outlets nationwide.

Fenton’s most recent capacity building efforts engaged 70 community-based organizations in three states, along with others that work nationally in a comprehensive suite of capability-development sessions over a nine month period, growing skills that will be vital to their current and future efforts.

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