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W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards $2.4 Million Grant to Ochsner Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has awarded a $2.4 million grant to Ochsner Health and Xavier University of Louisiana to support the Ochsner Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research (OXIHER). OXIHER was announced in November 2020 as part of a 10-year, $100 million commitment to address Louisiana’s most critical health needs. WKKF’s generous grant will support OXIHER’s opening and provide critical resources to help fulfill its mission.

“We’re honored to have the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s support on such a critical project that will impact our community for generations,” said Warner L. Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health. “We are able to accomplish more and create positive change together. The commitment of WKKF to help us understand and change health disparities moves us closer to our goal of creating a healthier state for our entire community.”

Louisiana has consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the country for nearly a decade, placing 49th in 2020 by America’s Health Rankings. Clinical, behavioral, environmental and social factors are analyzed to determine a state’s health rankings.

Key challenges facing the state include a high percentage of children in poverty, people who smoke, prevalence of obesity, low birth weights and higher rates of cardiovascular and cancer deaths. Louisiana’s population also has some of the country’s highest rates of chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and COPD. These challenges became even more apparent as COVID-19 impacted areas across Louisiana. New Orleans emerged as one of the country’s first and hardest hit COVID-19 hotspots in 2020 and continues to face high positivity and fatality rates.

”Healthcare disparities are a critically important issue that will take time, collaboration, resources and dedication to solve. Our goal is to work toward healthcare equity for every person in every community. This requires removing obstacles such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences. No single organization can do it alone, which is why we are so thrilled to partner with Xavier, and grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation their support in achieving our goals for the people we serve,” said Eboni Price-Haywood, M.D., medical director, OXIHER.

Health inequity, whether due to race, ethnicity, gender or low socioeconomic status, contributes to poor health and is a complex issue that requires careful investigation and novel solutions. OXIHER will focus on five key strategies to address health inequity in Louisiana:

  1. Outcomes and health service research.
  2. Education, which includes workforce development to create a diverse and inclusive pipeline of healthcare providers and training so that all healthcare providers understand the importance of diversity, inclusion, and health equity.
  3. Population health initiatives that focus on healthcare access and ambulatory care quality metrics and connecting patients with community resources they need outside of healthcare.
  4. Community engagement, with the Center hosting events such as health fairs, community clinics and workforce development opportunities.
  5. Advocacy to work with our government leaders to improve public policy around health.

“We sincerely thank the Kellogg Foundation for generously supporting the Ochsner Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research," said Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana. "The work being completed by our collaborative efforts is of the utmost importance to eliminating barriers to healthcare, investing in the next generation of 'health care heroes', understanding health disparities, and advancing equity."

WKKF has supported Ochsner in the past, including support to establish the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist, a campus of Ochsner Medical Center. The Milk Bank accepts donated human milk, which provides life-saving nutrients to vulnerable newborns and reduces the rate of necrotizing enterocolitis, a deadly intestinal infection that affects low birth weight infants.

WKKF’s grant will be gifted over a period of three years, beginning in 2021.


About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed more than 876,000 people from across the globe in 2019, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner's team of more than 26,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit To transform your health, please visit

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit