About Us

The Castanea Fellowship creates opportunities for transformative leadership to thrive.

The Castanea Fellowship is a two-year fellowship for diverse leader working for a racially just food system in any of the areas of: health, environment, agriculture, regional economies, or community development. Castanea Fellows will build power to shift structures and culture towards the creation of a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system for children, families, and all communities. We give Castanea Fellows the time, space, and resources they need to connect and innovate on long-term solutions that can foster vibrant communities.

Castanea Fellowship is nurtured by a stellar Steering Committee, supported by a powerhouse advisory council, informed by hundreds of conversations with food system change-makers, and inspired by a decade of successful alumni from the W.K. Kellogg Food and Community Fellows.

Core Values

Racial Equity

To mindfully transform the food system we must first acknowledge historical practices of displacement, enslavement and the devaluing of labor, especially among indigenous peoples, black families, and rural communities. Castanea Fellows will be leaders from (and committed to) these communities. Our fellows’ work will already be rooted in racial equity and they will leverage our resources, networks, and their own experiences to develop innovative solutions.


Diverse approaches, perspectives, and lived experiences are instrumental to our fellowship's success. By convening diverse leaders, especially those typically underrepresented in leadership roles, our program will generate creative and bold ideas. Castanea Fellows and trainers will reflect our country’s regional diversity as well as lived experiences (ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation). We strive to have a multi-racial cohort with a majority of people of color.


Castanea Fellows will transform the food system on both local and national levels. They will shift policies, practices, culture, institution, and our narrative surrounding food. They will be able to demonstrate that a different and more equitable food system is possible and will inspire and generate innovations throughout the nations. We value tangible, transformational actions, and will support and help amplify the impact of Castanea Fellows.

Our History

In 2013, a twelve-year experiment in leadership development by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation ended. Over the course of its tenure, the Foundation’s Food & Society Fellowship served nearly one hundred leaders and sparked numerous groundbreaking organizations, launched careers in food system change, and deepened the networks of change makers working nationwide to transform the food system.

When the program was shuttered, alumni from the fellowship expressed concern about the gap it left: the lack of a high-profile program serving food change leaders and focused on essential skills building and networking. Several years later, alumni of the program, funders, and leaders came together to explore the idea of a new national fellowship program. Together, this group led an initial test of concept with interviews and conversations throughout the field. In the spring of 2016, a landscape assessment was conducted to rigorously ground-truth the concept with food system leaders and funders across the country. And thus, the Castanea Fellowship was brought to fruition, creating a space for powerful leaders to build power and movement together.


Join the numerous foundations, nonprofit, and business leaders in this multi-sector collaborative committed to shaping an equitable future for food. Grants, gifts, and individual donations are welcome.
Learn More