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Eastern African Collaborative Crop Research Among 4th Quarter 2017 Grantmaking Highlights

The McKnight Foundation awarded 139 grants totaling $18,608,000 in its fourth-quarter 2017 grantmaking. Of the $18.6 million approved, $2,078,000 went to organizations working in Eastern Africa in the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), which works to ensure access to nutritious food sustainably produced by local people, a key strategy of our international program.

CCRP works through a community of practice approach in four geographic regions, including Eastern Africa. The program’s focus is on collaborative agroecological systems research and knowledge sharing to strengthen the capacities of smallholder farmers, research institutes, and development organizations. Food Tank recently named CCRP as one of its top “118 Organizations to Watch in 2018.”We highlight a few of this quarter’s approved grants below; a full list of approved grants is available in our grants database.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization in Nairobi received $450,000 over three years to support the diversification of smallholder farms. The project focuses on planting multipurpose legumes, which can diversify household diets and improve nutrition, increase yields and income, provide forage material, enhance soil fertility, and suppress weeds.

McKnight also awarded Rongo University $450,000 over three years to diversify Eastern African sorghum varieties. Sorghum is a major food crop in Eastern Africa, and the project is identifying the most suitable strains for the area’s variable growing conditions and developing varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases encountered by area farmers.

“McKnight’s Collaborative Crop Research Program increases food security for people in developing countries,” says Meghan Binger Brown, then board chair. “We do that by taking a holistic, ecosystem approach to agriculture, and by supporting research and partnerships that lead to increased productivity, improved livelihoods, better nutrition, and equity.”

In other news, McKnight welcomes Laura Salveson as our new director of facilities and guest services. We are also thrilled that long-time board member Debby Landsman has been elected as our new board chair. We offer our heartfelt gratitude to Meghan Binger Brown for her three years of leadership as board chair and for her service as a board member since 1996. We also salute Bill Gregg, who stepped off the board after nine years of dedicated service.

Quarterly Digest

About the McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. We use all our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based family foundation had assets of approximately $2.2 billion and granted about $90 million in 2017. Learn more at, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Topic: Collaborative Crop Research

January 2018