NAACP Law Fellows witness advocacy, activism in action

August 24, 2016
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By Mary Fair-Matthews, Kellogg Company Senior Corporate Counsel

At Kellogg Company, our philosophy has always focused on integrity, dignity and respect for all people – very much like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

That’s why, for the past 14 years, Kellogg Company and our Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund have sponsored the NAACP Law Fellow program, a program created to help develop future generations of civil rights attorneys.

Law Fellows are among the best and brightest third-year law students who are chosen for their passion for and commitment to civil rights. Working from the NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, these Fellows participate in projects and champion causes related to social, environmental, political, educational and economic initiatives, which may include voting rights, criminal justice, employment opportunities, and more.

This year, their experience also included visits to Kellogg Company headquarters, the new GBS center in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a nearby production facility. In addition to seeing how their favorite Pop-Tarts are made – a highlight for many of these young adults – the Fellows gained a new understanding of our company’s K Values and our commitment to civil rights within the organization and the communities where we live and work.

I’ll let this year’s Law Fellows speak for themselves about their visit to Kellogg:

“While touring the manufacturing facility, I felt like a kid in a candy store,” said Fernando Kirkman of the University of Maryland School of Law. “But it’s also clear that for Kellogg, diversity and inclusiveness is not just a catch phrase; it is a deliberate business model that permeates every facet of the company.”

“I learned that Kellogg is not afraid to speak out against injustice, and to advocate for those in need,” said Desiree Singer, from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. “Their bravery speaks volumes to how important the K Values are to the company.”

The Fellows also learned that Kellogg employees, including our Vice Chairman of Corporate Development and General Counsel, provided very public support of a measure to extend civil rights and non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in Portage. Mich. Members of the Kellogg team spoke before the Portage City Council on the first evening of the Fellows’ visit – inspiring Catharine Debelle from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, to write:

“Seldom do we hear stories of a corporation like Kellogg coming to the defense and support of those discriminated against, even outside the company. This alone gave me pride to be an NAACP 2016 Kellogg Law Fellow this summer.”

At Kellogg, we are a company with a heart and soul. We believe in diversity of thought and diversity of people across the board. We encourage all of the 2016 NAACP Law Fellows to be intentional and thoughtful game changers. By sponsoring these important programs, we are living our K Values, along with our commitment to equality that brings value to all people.

I know that in whatever arena these promising young people choose to practice, they will always look for opportunities to be champions and advocates for people. That’s the message we hope we conveyed when they visited our company in June.

And it’s our message to you as well.

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