Perhaps the biggest splash of all in the science philanthropy stream last year was made not by one of the high-profile science endowments such as Rockefeller or MacArthur, but by an immensely well-heeled midwestern organization known mainly for its community action programs. In this case, the beneficent snap, crackle, and pop was supplied by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., an offshoot of a company long-associated with Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes.

In a dramatic departure from its longstanding pattern of funding regional health, education, and agriculture projects, Kellogg committed $20 million to the National Academy of Sciences last April—one of the largest grants ever conferred by the foundation in its 59-year history. Does such bounteousness signal a shift in focus for the foundation that will benefit other segments of the science community in the future?

Kellogg Foundation president Norman Brown sees this as a possibility, but he...

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