Alix Cantave, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Latin American and Carribbean

FUNDING AREAS: Haiti, Economic development

CONTACT: alix.cantave@wkkf.org269-968-1611

IP TAKE: Cantave is a Haitian-born academic and education policy wonk who helps oversee several million dollars in grants each year relating to Latin American and Caribbean economic development. Cantave, along with the rest of the Kellogg team based in the foundation's Miami offices, emphasizes providing opportunity for children—as well as the families and communities that raise them—so they can grow up healthy, educated, and empowered.

PROFILE: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a massive philanthropic legacy of cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, spends more than $250 million a year to create opportunities for vulnerable children around the world. But even foundations as large as Kellogg have to be selective about how much money they put where if they want to maximize impact through large, targeted investments.  

When the 2010 earthquake ravaged Haiti, orphaning more than 300,000 children in its wake, Kellogg felt compelled to revisit the country where it had done work in previous decades. In 2012, Alix Cantave, an academic with a background in Haitian education policy, joined up with Kellogg to help lead the foundation's work there, with a focus on providing pathways to success for some of the country's most impoverished children. Today, Cantave oversees millions of dollars in Haitian development grants every year.

Thinking about, and working on, solutions to Haitian problems is hardly new for Cantave. Armed with a Ph.D. in public policy from University of Massachusetts Boston, Cantave has taught university courses on Caribbean affairs, and headed up the school's Haitian Studies Project. More recently, Cantave established and managed a consortium of approximately 20 universities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Spain that pooled resources to strengthen higher education systems and institutions in Haiti. And on a personal level, Cantave was born in Haiti, so the country's well-being—and the opportunities it can provide for children—is of special significance to him.

His prior education also shouldn't be igorned: His master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute, and his bachelor's degree in Environmental Design from State University of New York at Buffalo before that most likely also lend to his world view and current decision-making.

At Kellogg, Cantave and the rest of the Latin America and Caribbean team is strategic about how it allocates its resources, in order to have maximal impact given financial, political, and other constraints. Kellogg therefore has targeted its grants to serve two regions in the Caribbean: its Central Area and its Southwest Corridor. Each of these locations is home to about 200,000 people living in rural or semi-urban settings, and both of these places experience high poverty and other obstacles that make it hard for children to realize their full potential into adulthood.

Kellogg makes grants to these regions through all its signature program areas—educated kids; healthy kids; secure families; community and civic engagement; and racial equity—in Haiti. In addition, the foundation pays special attention to the country's infant and maternal care, nutrition for children under the age of five, school enrollment, racial equity awareness (including the history of slavery and its ongoing effects on social and political realities in Haiti), adequate housing, and economic opportunity for families in agricultural and industrial sectors.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation typically makes Haitian development grants to U.S.-based organizations working in Haiti, although the foundation occasionally supports NGOs headquartered internationally, too. In general, grants in Cantave's portfolio range in dollar amount from about $10,000 to $1 million, so there are funding opportunities for NGOs working on projects both large and small in the foundation's targeted regions.

An important note for would-be grantees with projects in Haiti: Don't rule out Kellogg as a potential funder if your work doesn't exclusively or directly benefit children. The foundation supports initiatives that empower entire families and communities, as long as they improve environments in which kids are brought up.

To give you a better idea of what kind of work Cantave and the LAC team funds, Kellogg's recent investments in Haitian programs include:

  • $50,000 to Heifer Project International, headquartered in Arkansas, to explore an opportunity to create jobs and increase the income of families and agricultural production through a dairy facility business plan located in the Haiti micro-regions.
  • $499,883 to DC's Fonkoze USA in support of microloans and financial literacy training for Haitian women in Kellogg's targeted service regions.
  • $347,909 to BuildOn, Inc., headquartered in Connecticut, to improve access to quality education for rural Haitian children through the completion of four primary schools.
  • $599,449 to Gret-Groupe de Recherche et D'echanges Technologiques, headquartered in France, to
    improve basic services for children and their families through a comprehensive development program that focuses on maternal and child health, agriculture and water.

If you work in Haiti, applying for funding from Kellogg is about as easy as you could hope for. The foundation accepts online (and online only) applications from prospective grantees with a Haitian focus on an ongoing basis. Be mindful, however, that the ease of Kellogg's application process is inversely proportional to its selectivity, so applicants would do well to familiarize themselves with Kellogg's work and/or coordinate with program staff before submitting a proposal.