How the Kellogg Foundation's Investment Arm Contributes to Healthcare Reform

In addition to its philanthropic activity, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has a philanthropic investment arm it calls Mission Driven Investing (MDI). As with similar programs, MDI seeks businesses whose projects align with Kellogg's values. And the latest business to meet such a standard is SeaChange Health, a Calfornia-based health organization that designs "value-based" healthcare systems to improve care and lower costs. Kellogg provided $3 million to SeaChange. (See W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Grants for Health Policy and Access).

The company aims to encourage patients to become more active participants in managing their health, using many of the strategies we've seen elsewhere in healthcare reform. SeaChange incentivizes prophylactic actions like diabetes screening and blood pressure checks by providing monetary rewards in exchange; things like lowering out-of-pocket expenses, or making deposits into a health savings account.

The goal is to catch chronic diseases early, making them easier to treat and potentially cure, and to manage those conditions better once they are diagnosed. It's about health management, not just health care.

The Kellogg Foundation first set aside $100 million for its MDI program in 2007, earmarking $25 million for South Africa and $75 million for the United States. The mission of the program is much the same as Kellogg's regular philanthropy, except for the focus on "preserving capital." WKKF president and CEO Sterling Speirn says the program allows his foundation to "preserve and grow our financial resources" while still fulfilling the WKKF mission. 

So far, MDI has dedicated about 16 percent of its MDI money to its Food, Health & Well-being focus, with 13% going to Family Economic Security and 42 percent to Education & Learning. The other third went to international causes. So while it's clear that healthcare isn't one of the initiative's top priorities, it's certainly not an insignificant area of investment.