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Battle Creek Shines As Nation's First 'Beacon Community'

BATTLE CREEK -- Grassroots and community leaders are joining with The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region on a three-year initiative targeting social issues.

This collaboration, funded with a $1.4 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will make Battle Creek the first-ever Beacon Community -- a national model for uniting individuals and organizations in applying Harwood practice principles to address community challenges.

"Tackling the most pressing issues we face, from education to employment to health care, depends on every facet of the community engaging in meaningful ways," said Michael Larson, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. "In coming together as a Beacon Community, Battle Creek will demonstrate how people can create change on issues that matter."

The process begins March 5-7, when community leaders in Battle Creek gather at the McCamly Plaza Hotel for the Harwood Public Innovators Lab. This three-day immersion in the core elements of the Harwood practice will equip the attending leaders with the tools and approach for identifying and addressing social issues in the next three years.

Participants include leaders from UWBCKR, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, Battle Creek city government, BC Pulse, Project 20/20 and many other organizations.

"We chose Battle Creek as the first Beacon Community because of the great partnership potential we've seen here through our work with the community over the past five years," said Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. "People working together for the common good is a constant theme in Battle Creek. We believe this approach will achieve more impact, and we want to replicate our innovation with Battle Creek in other communities across the country."

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works with individuals and organizations to lead social change in their communities. Founded by Richard C. Harwood, the Institute has leveraged its 25 years of on-the-ground experience and innovation in communities along with its national partnerships to become a leading change organization. The Institute is recognized nationally for its unique approach to breaking down barriers and empowering people to make tangible progress in improving their communities. For more information, please visit

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