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From equity to justice Part of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s obligation to this community is to learn and grow; to innovate, while staying true to the heart of who we are. We do this by ensuring our community, our values and our unique expertise guide our work. This community is complex. We’ve come to understand we can’t make the impact we desire by ignoring the complexities and nuance of the human experience. For decades, our equity priority allowed for a more nuanced community analysis and pushed us to address the root causes of issues that have affected our community for generations. We’ve learned that systemic racism is almost always at the root of

Carrie Pickett-Erway President/CEO

community inequities. There has been a greater awakening in our community because of COVID-19. Folks who were unaware, or able to avoid the question about racism in Kalamazoo have been shaken. The pandemic was just one of many demonstrations of how layers of injustice and harm lead to increased deaths and suffering for people of color. We’re learning how philanthropy must shift for resources to reach deeper into communities of color. The pandemic put a spotlight on the practices within philanthropy that impede or obstruct critical mutual aid efforts, which are often led by and offer direct support to people of color.


Jordan Duckens


Communications Officer

Tim Smolenski

While our nonprofit partners have always done amazing work to support our neighbors, the story and impact of local mutual aid efforts often fly under the radar. The cover story on page 4 highlights grassroots efforts during the pandemic and how KZCF is reimagining our work to be a better partner in this kind of community aid. I hope that folks are energized and excited to engage in learning and helping our community undo the impact of injustice. Many have talked about “rebuilding better.” I get really excited about that in 2021 and beyond. We’re grateful to community members, donors, nonprofit partners and colleagues who challenge us and collaborate with us every day. You all make us better.


UPDATE is a newsletter published three times a year by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.


• Give online at

• Kalamazoo County 501(C)(3) nonprofits

• Mail a check directly to KZCF

• Scholarships for college


Marketing Communications Coordinator

CROSS-FUNCTIONAL EDITORIAL TEAM Sandy Barry-Loken Sue Bos Beth Gregory-Wallis Kururama Masomere Sharayl Moore Emily Olivares LAYOUT & DESIGN Eric Schmidt, Frogsplash LLC QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? Please email Sarah Lee at

connect KALFOUND

Scholarship expert uses success to help students fund dreams Alexis and her husband share in-depth about their journey in their book “Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing Happiness and Love.” Their book and business ventures challenge individuals to reflect on the development of their identity while unraveling the barriers and insecurities that have impacted their families for generations. Alexis Lenderman-Black is a scholarship all star. In

Alexis believes this can encourage growth and prosperity

undergrad, she earned over $200,000 in scholarships,

on the individual and community level, both personally

including three scholarships from the Kalamazoo

and professionally.

Community Foundation (KZCF). After graduating from Western Michigan University with dual degrees in Entrepreneurship and Global & International Studies, she hoped to help other youth – specifically first-generation students and foster youth – graduate debt-free. In 2016, she co-founded The Scholarship Expert with her

“It is our hope that through challenging others, accountability and inspiration, we can help to change the narrative of families and communities.”

now-husband, Justin Black, using her skills to support students and families searching for money for college.

Alexis Lenderman-Black

After re-launching The Scholarship Expert in December

Co-author of “Redefining Normal”

2019, the couple released The Perfect College Student Planner and The Scholarship Blueprint book, workbook, and course.

“It is our hope that through challenging others, accountability and inspiration, we can help to change the

Alexis says it took a community of support to get her

narrative of families and communities,” says Alexis. “We

where she is today.

all have skills, abilities and talents to serve our community

“We do not believe that anyone is self-made,” says Alexis. “We all must rely on others to be successful or to ‘share

and make a difference. Organizations like KZCF are sowing seeds into our lives so that this may be possible.

the load’ as my Seita Scholars Program coach puts

Kalamazoo Community Foundation recently launched

it. With resources like [scholarships], we were able to

its Emergency Scholarship Fund for students in need of

expand our world view (literally) through our 13 study

books, course materials, testing fees, tuition assistance,

abroad programs while co-developing two brand new

etc. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, apply

study abroad programs.”






Group from AIMS Kidz enjoying Teen Day at Airway Lanes

Mutual aid is so common, that it often goes unrecognized. If you see someone you know in need and provide resources to them – or have received this kind of support yourself – then you know something about mutual aid. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacquis Robertson supported local mutual aid efforts and believes the defining characteristic of mutual aid is the relationships. “Mutual aid not only allows for there to be a sharing of resources, but also for a community to be built and for a sharing of stories. These are the foundational pieces of creating any systemic and institutional change.” Mutual aid emphasizes “solidarity over charity,” Robertson explains. Building relationships, building partnerships, building community, so when things like the pandemic arise, you can lean on those around you. During the pandemic, Iesha Williams and Sharon Hutchins organized AIMS Kidz to keep the children in their neighborhood active and intellectually stimulated during the summer. The moms paid for food and supplies for activities out of their own pocket. Photos at Left – Top: Huey D’s Goodies chef, Demargeo White, prepares cupcakes. Middle: Treats for staff giving out COVID-19 vaccines. Bottom: Feed the Fight team members with Family Health Center staff. Photographs by Susan Andress. 4 KALAMAZOO COMMUNITY FOUNDATION SUMMER 2021

OVER CHARITY The program started small and grew to nearly 100 children, increasing costs. To keep the program running, community members gave thousands of dollars to support the program through CashApp contributions and supplies donated directly to Willians and Hutchinson. AIMS Kidz received a grant from KZCF Community Urgent Relief Fund to support indoor space, supplies, food and volunteer stipends for community engagement and supporting youth in the virtual learning space. In times of crisis, mutual aid efforts like AIMS Kidz play a critical role in supporting communities. Like nonprofits, mutual aids have a long history of filling in gaps and

AIMS Kidz t-shirt speaks to the importance of community

being a viable vehicle for providing community care. Investment Officer at KZCF. “They are trying to move

“Mutual aid not only allows for there to be a sharing of resources, but also for a community to be built and for a sharing of stories. These are the foundational pieces of creating any systemic and institutional change.” Jacquis Robertson Kalamazoo County community member

money and resources into community at a pace that’s faster and more direct than traditional philanthropy.” In response, the KZCF grantmaking team is investigating ways to be more compatible with grassroots organizations. Currently, the team is exploring the idea of a hub that would make it easier for KZCF to fund and build capacity of grassroots efforts. “The idea of this hub aligns with the feedback from focus groups and surveys we held last fall with our nonprofit partners” said Sandy Barry-Loken, Vice President of

However, mutual aid efforts are often organized by individuals or grassroots organizations that fall outside the formal nonprofit classification. Traditional

Grants at KZCF. “Our partners called for transformational, trust-based relationships; faster, streamlined support and for KZCF to take bold actions.”

grantmaking parameters make it difficult for foundations

Mutual aid happens every day in our own backyard.

to fund mutual aid efforts.

Read more about Feed the Fight’s mutual aid effort to

During the pandemic, it became increasingly urgent for the KZCF Community Investment team to find solutions for working with mutual aids and grassroots organizations.

support frontline workers and local restaurants during the pandemic in Second Wave Media’s story “Feed the Fight Kalamazoo delivers its final meals”, found at

“Aside from funding structures, there are other reasons why these organizations avoid approaching foundations for support,” said Kururama Masomere, Community




Investing in values The team at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is always in conversations about how to put values into action. In 2019, those conversations highlighted a need for KZCF’s investment pool to align with the vision of an equitable community. In collaboration with the team at Greenleaf Trust, a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) pool was developed for the Community Foundation.

“Many of the KZCF portfolio managers continue to engage with their portfolio companies on environmental, social and governance issues.” Lucas Mansberger Investment Strategist at Greenleaf Trust

The KZCF Socially Responsible Investment Pool Relative to a 60/40 balanced portfolio, the KZCF SRI portfolio has:

• A  n overall higher quality sustainability/ ESG score* • 6  9% less exposure to fossil fuel companies • A  43% reduction in its carbon footprint

The KZCF SRI portfolio is designed with a holistic approach to sustainable and responsible investing. The funds in the SRI pool are managed by firms that identify and actively remove, or include, companies based on environmental, social and governance (ESG)

• 9  5% less exposure to tobacco manufacturers * As measured by Sustainalytics

considerations like pollution, diversity, human rights, or weapons and tobacco. While the investments align with KZCF’s SRI goals and ESG screens, achieving strong riskadjusted performance remains a focus.

boards, encouraging them to disclose racial/ethnic and gender data of their workforce and pressing them to

Although there is still much work to be done, there were

incorporate racial equity initiatives into their operations,

positive trends since KZCF made the SRI option available

products and services.”

in 2019. “Many of the KZCF portfolio managers continue to

The SRI option is open to any endowed fund type or non-endowed donor advised fund investing for the

engage with their portfolio companies on environmental,

long-term. Fund representative may recommend that

social and governance issues,” says Lucas Mansberger,

a fund they established be invested in the SRI pool, as

Investment Strategist at Greenleaf Trust.

long as it aligns with the donor’s intentions for the fund.

“For example, during 2020, Parnassus Investments

Interested in knowing more about the KZCF socially

participated in 238 engagements with portfolio

responsible investment option? Contact Donor

companies where they communicated their goal for the

Relations Officer Julie Loncharte at jloncharte@

companies to have at least one person of color on their for more information.


Grantmaking highlights Kalamazoo Community Foundation awards grants to Kalamazoo County nonprofits throughout the year. In the first round of 2021 grantmaking, 32 nonprofit partners received $2.6 million in grants. Additionally, a variety of nonprofits receive grants and distributions from Advised, Field-of-Interest and Designated Funds. Each grant is made considering the impact it will have in making Kalamazoo County the most equitable place to live. For more details on the programs funded, visit Big Brothers Big Sisters One to One Mentoring

Kalamazoo Collective Housing Affordable Housing Cooperative

Black Wall Street Black Business Hub

Kalamazoo County Ready 4s Kalamazoo County Ready 4s

Can-Do Kitchen Rising to the Needs of Food Entrepreneurs

Kalamazoo Defender Client Advocate Office

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Integrated Student Services Community Healing Centers, Inc. Early Intervention Program Community Healing Centers, Inc. STREET After School Program & Niñas Del Corazon Douglass Community Association Fulfilling our Promise to Our Community Emergent Justice Emergent Justice Goodwill Industries of SWMI Life Guides/Guias de Vida Healthy House Healthy House Extended Stay Program Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Music Education Program

Kalamazoo Literacy Council Everyone Needs to Read Adult Literacy Initiative Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services Homeownership Access and Sustainability Kalamazoo RESA Valley Center / Building Countywide Capacity in School Climate Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Marvelous Music / Kalamazoo Kids in Tune & Orchestra Rouh Kids International Home (PreK International) Summer Learning/Operational Support Local Initiatives Support Corporation Strategic Planning/Operating

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center Policy Advocacy and Direct Defense for Kalamazoo’s Immigrant Community Michigan State AFL-CIO Access for All Apprenticeship Readiness Program Michigan United Leadership Development for Criminal Justice Reform Ministry with Community Drop-In, Resource Center, and Member Safety Project Lives Project MRC Industries, Inc. McKercher Skill-Building program Northside Preschools Northside Preschools Seeds for Success Seeds for Success Sustainability Vibrant Kalamazoo Community Engagement YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo Operational Support / Cradle Kalamazoo

Donors create new funds at KZCF KZCF donors established two new funds since the Spring issue of UPDATE. Other types of funds include Advised Funds, Designated Funds, Field of Interest (FOI) Funds and Love Where You Live (or Unrestricted) Funds. SCHOLARSHIP – Scholarships invest primarily in post-high school education and training for traditional and non-traditional students. • Peter J. Livingston Scholarship Fund

• The Grainger Family Scholarship Fund

For a complete list of KZCF funds visit Contact a Donor Relations Officer at 269.381.4416 to learn more on how to open a fund. SUMMER 2021



Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage paid Kalamazoo, MI Permit Number 66

402 East Michigan Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.381.4416

After working for 28 years at Parchment High School, Jim’s service to students didn’t end. He later established the Jim Strehlow Scholarship for Parchment Students at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF). The scholarship provides up to $1000 for a graduating Parchment High School senior who plans to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Students earn

A Tribute to Jim Strehlow Jim Strehlow’s life work reflected his passion for teaching and nurturing young minds. His career starting in 1950 as a teacher and coach in Bangor, Michigan. He moved on to become the first Director of Guidance for Parchment Public Schools in fall of 1958. He also served as an

the scholarship by showing improvement in motivation and achievement during their time in high school and demonstrate responsibility, a positive attitude and work ethic. In addition to establishing his scholarship fund, Jim volunteered on the KZCF Scholarship Committee for over 20 years. He served as a Remynse Reader, reviewing applications and recommending students for scholarship awards.

admissions counselor at Kalamazoo Valley Community

After a long, full life, Jim passed away on May 3, 2021 at

College. He even taught in California and traveled

age 95.

around the world with Western Michigan University students and professors.

Photo: Jim Stehlow talking to scholarship recipient at KZCF’s 2019 Scholarship Reception

Profile for Kalamazoo Community Foundation


UPDATE is a newsletter published by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation three times a year (Spring, Summer, Winter). Inside you'll find the l...


UPDATE is a newsletter published by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation three times a year (Spring, Summer, Winter). Inside you'll find the l...

Profile for kalfound

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