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Together, we can do better I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who are passionate about making Kalamazoo County a vibrant, thriving community where every person can reach their full potential. Over the last decade, I have learned that in order to have meaningful impact in our community we have to address the root cause of an issue. This requires a deeper understanding of the barriers that prevent individuals from accessing what they need to live positive lives. The Board of Trustees at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Carrie Pickett-Erway President/CEO

(KZCF) more than three years ago began to enhance its understanding of community issues. Our trustees developed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) curriculum to sharpen their ability to contribute to our mission: removing barriers so every adult and child in Kalamazoo County can reach full potential. The board’s DEI curriculum is a year-long effort that includes on-site training, reading materials, and attending area art exhibits and seminars. The topics include housing segregation, white fragility, implicit bias, ableism, dynamics of race, micro-aggressions and the power imbalances that exist in philanthropy. We are not the only local organization exploring and embedding DEI in our work. Our cover story (found on page 4) features the journey the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo’s (ACGK) leadership team is taking to make its programming and internal culture more inclusive. It is stories like these that inspire us to be more intentional about creating a sense of community and a sense of belonging for every individual in Kalamazoo County. As Maya Angelou’s quote suggests, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Knowing better is the result of curiosity, learning and adapting. Join our learning journey by reading our publications, such as UPDATE, and connecting with us on social media. Share your curiosity with us. Together, we can do better.


UPDATE is a newsletter published three times a year by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS TEAM Sarah Lee, Director Jordan Duckens, Communications Officer Tim Smolenski, Marketing & Events Officer Tom Vance, Communications Officer CROSS-FUNCTIONAL EDITORIAL TEAM Sandy Barry-Loken Sue Bos Beth Gregory-Wallis Kururama Masomere Emily Olivares LAYOUT & DESIGN Eric Schmidt, Frogsplash LLC QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? Please email Sarah Lee at slee@kalfound.org. Cover: Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com.


• Give online at kalfound.org/give-now

• Kalamazoo County 501(C)(3) nonprofits

• Mail a check directly to KZCF

• Scholarships for college


connect KALFOUND

Creative options for more meaningful giving In 1998, Phyllis Westerman and her husband Richard

After several conversations with her KZCF Donor

(Dick) established a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at

Relations Officer and her son, Perry, Phyllis decided to

the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF). For

establish two new funds through grants made from

individuals, families or businesses interested in making a

the original Donor Advised Fund. The Westerman

gift and remaining actively involved in suggesting how

Family Housing Fund mirrors our Love Where You

it is used, Donor Advised Funds are the perfect option.

Live Housing Fund and focuses on housing needs

KZCF has more than 200 DAFs and Donor Relations staff

in Kalamazoo County. KZCF’s Love Where You Live

work with donor advisors in a variety of ways based on

family of funds address current community needs and

the advisor’s interest in engagement.

invests in the work of local nonprofit organizations that are collaborating with others to make long-term,

“Charitable giving is sometimes complex, but always personal. It’s our job to navigate those complexities with our donors to find options that align with their values and support the community’s greatest needs.”

community-transforming change. The Westerman Family Transportation Fund, a Field-ofInterest Fund, was the second fund created from their original DAF. Field-of-Interest Funds enable donors to focus their giving on the community needs they care about most. “Charitable giving is sometimes complex, but always

Julie Loncharte, Donor Relations officer Kalamazoo Community Foundation

personal,” said Julie Loncharte, Donor Relations officer at KZCF. She worked directly with Phyllis to establish the Field-of-Interest and Love Where You Live Funds.

For 20 years, the Westerman Family Fund supported

“It’s our job to navigate those complexities with our

numerous nonprofit organizations with a typical grant

donors to find options that align with their values and

between $100 and $250. When Dick passed in 2018 at

support the community’s greatest needs.”

age 92, Phyllis began exploring options that would make her existing fund more impactful in the community. “I had a strong desire to support the homeless and

“The Westerman story really brings an exciting part of our work to life,” said Joanna Donnelly Dales, vice-president of Donor Relations at KZCF. “There

housing issues that affect so many people in Kalamazoo

isn’t just one way to give or make an impact in our

County,” said Westerman. “I also believed in removing

community. Phyllis and Perry really tapped into some

barriers to transportation that prevent people from

creative options to address issues they truly care about

obtaining and keeping a steady job.”

through unrestricted giving.”

She also wanted to make Qualified Charitable

Looking for ways to align your giving with your goals

Distributions (QCD) from her Individual Retirement

and values? Contact a Donor Relations Officer at

Account (IRA). Since this option is not available for

269.381.4416 to start a conversation today or visit

DAFs due to government restrictions, her Donor


Relations Officer looked for funds that could accept QCDs, such as the Love Where You Live Funds and Field-of-Interest Funds.




AN ARTS COMMUNITY Two years ago, the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo (ACGK) began intentional self-reflection in order to fully live into its name. Its board of directors had recently experienced a large changeover and new members were interested in exploring how the Arts Council could reach a more diverse group of people. “If our mission is to support art and artists in greater Kalamazoo it’s important to discuss who we are supporting now and who is missing from that conversation,” said Kristen Chesak, executive director of ACGK. “The first step to answering those questions was to examine ourselves. It was the only way we could be inclusive.” And until now, the conversation had never been had through the lens of justice and equity. “We were only asking about who we are not connecting with, not who isn’t at the table – and doesn’t want to be at the table – based on invisible stop signs and barriers

The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo partnered with El Concilio to create a Day of the Dead altar in the Epic Center as part of an Art Hop last fall.

we unintentionally create.” The team approved a new strategic plan that created an internal structure and culture that supported “who the organization believes they need to be for the community.”

WellSpring Dance Company, Stulberg International String Competition and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts were invited to attend the trainings at no cost.

The new plan led to a new vision, mission and values for

The workshops, hosted by consultant and educator Mia

the organization that center access, inspiration, dialogue,

Henry of Freedom Lifted, explore topics of identity, equity,

empathy and sustainability.

relationships and how they might affect interactions with

Hiring practices also changed to decrease institutional bias. It’s led to a more diverse staff and new voices in the room. ACGK didn’t stop with itself. They also wanted to bring other arts entities along with them on the journey.

patrons, audiences, the public and other artists. Over 50 members of the arts community attended the first workshop in January. Both the March and June workshops are almost full.

Through grant funding from the Kalamazoo Community

“Feedback has been positive,” Chesak said. “The goal was

Foundation, the Arts Council is hosting one-day justice

to come to the agreement that arts organizations have

and equity trainings tailored for arts organizations. Staff,

an internal culture and it is biased. Being on the same

board members and volunteers from local organizations

page helps us move forward together and opens up the

such as The Gilmore, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra,



FOR EVERYONE Rufus Ferguson attended the January workshop. Ferguson

Chesak is already noticing changes. Last fall, El Concilio

is the education manager at the Kalamazoo Symphony

applied for and received an ACGK Arts Fund of Kalamazoo

Orchestra (KSO). The programming he oversees at KSO

County grant for its Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

offers courses about classical music and symphonic

community celebration. Day of the Dead is a traditional

instruments to students in Kalamazoo County and

Mexican holiday where families celebrate deceased

surrounding areas. It was the first time he attended

loved ones through music, dance and extravagant altars

an equity training.

decorated with flowers, photos and special food.

“I felt it was important for me to know what the barriers

The Arts Council also partnered with El Concilio to create

are, what my advantages are, and how I can make the

a Day of the Dead altar in the Epic Center to remember

learning experience better for everyone around me,”

local artists who had passed away over the last year. It

Ferguson said.

was the first time the cultural celebration was featured as

According to Ferguson, in symphony culture it’s common to highlight white, male composers and it’s important for institutions who promote this music to do a better job of featuring a wider variety of composers and musical styles. The training taught him how biases can influence arts curriculum and the type of programs offered to the community. Growing up, Ferguson’s classical training did not expose him to composers of color or who identify as

part of an Art Hop.

“Equity is definitely relevant to what I do as an arts and education professional. If we can expose students to more diverse composers and artists at an earlier age, it allows for a deeper and more informed lens into art and culture.”

women. It wasn’t until he was a jazz student at Western Michigan University that he was introduced to women composers or composers of color. Nadie Boulanger, a

Rufus Ferguson, Education Manager Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

female composer he never heard of until college, is now one of his favorites. “Equity is definitely relevant to what I do as an arts and

“We are changing the dynamic,” Chesak said. “We are not trying to take over someone else’s celebration, but

education professional,” Ferguson said. “If we can expose

we’re now being invited in, experiencing it with them

students to more diverse composers and artists at an

and exposing the community to it as well.”

earlier age, it allows for a deeper and more informed lens into art and culture.” “Artists are in a unique position of being story-tellers in our

For those who may believe the justice and equity conversation doesn’t have a place in the arts world, Chesak said, “There is so much arts and culture that

community,” Chesak said. “The stories – and the people

is currently overlooked and missing because of bias.

who participate in those stories – make the difference

If more cultures felt safe enough to be in the space,

between a community divided or a community that is

our community culture would be so much richer.”

enriched and engaged with one another.” SPRING 2020



Youth reflection on racial healing by Cianna Hobson EDITOR’S NOTE: Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo celebrated the 4th annual National Day of Racial Healing on Jan. 21, 2020. Racial healing is a process we can undertake as individuals, in communities and across society as a whole. In healing, we recognize our common humanity, acknowledge the truth of past wrongs and build the authentic relationships capable of transforming communities and shifting our national discourse. This year’s celebration focused on youth and the important role they play in healing and transforming our community now and in the future. During the program, TRHT debuted Truth Talk, a series of intimate conversations with community members that center truth-telling and relationship building. Cianna Hobson participated in Truth Talk and National Day of Racial Healing and shared her thoughts with us.

I went to the Public Media Network for a podcast called Truth Talk with Ed Genesis and I had a spectacular experience. It really taught me about other people’s ideas and opinions about the question “What is Racial Healing to you?” It got me thinking that there is really more than just my idea or opinion on this question. Everyone has their own ideas to what racial healing means. I also loved the idea of them showing the podcast at

Cianna Hobson, age 10, attends Arcadia Elementary

National Day of Racial Healing. I thought it was cool to show that kids can be interested in racial healing and not

I would like to thank TRHT Kalamazoo for giving me this

just toys, video games and phones.

opportunity to share my thoughts about racial healing

When I was in the podcast, we mostly talked about coming together and bonding and when we showed people our conversation, I think we accomplished bringing people together. I really thought that this was a

and I would also like to thank the Public Media Network for supporting and giving us a space to talk about this and promote racial healing and give young people a chance to talk together.

good idea to have Truth Talk with younger kids because

TRHT Kalamazoo, hosted by the Kalamazoo Community

some kids need to learn about this type of stuff. Some

Foundation, is a community-based movement to

people have had to deal with racial harm and people

bring about transformational and sustainable change

need to know how to recover from it.

to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Learn more at trhtkzoo.org.


Grantmaking highlights Kalamazoo Community Foundation awarded $2 million in grants to 35 nonprofit programs in the second round of grantmaking in 2019. The nonprofit programs supported by these grants align with the KZCF’s investment priorities: equity and education. Grants were made to nonprofits serving Kalamazoo County in a variety of sectors including environment, housing and youth development. Local nonprofits also received grants and distributions from Advised and Designated Funds held at KZCF. For more details on the programs funded, visit kalfound.org/Grants/GrantsAwarded. • A  ACORN FARM INC.

• G  ryphon Place

• P  arents for Transition

• B  lack Arts and Cultural Center

• H  elen L. Fox Gospel Music Center

• Playworks Michigan

• Bronson Health Foundation

• H  elping Other People Exceed (HOPE) thru Navigation

• P  ortage Community Center

• C  ommunity Healing Centers • C  ommunity Promise Federal Credit Union • C  onfident S.O.L.E. • C  ount MI Vote Education Fund • E  astside Youth Strong • E  cumenical Senior Center • F  air Housing Center of Southwest Michigan • F  ire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative • G  irls On The Run of Greater Kalamazoo

• Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community (ISAAC) • J ustice for Our Neighbors-Michigan • K  alamazoo County Government • K  alamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center • K  alamazoo RESA

• P  revention Works, Inc. • R  ootead Enrichment Center • S  alvation Army • S  eeds for Success • S  ociety for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) • S  peak it Forward

• K  alamazoo RESA/Valley Center

• W  estern Michigan University Foundation

• K  alamazoo RESA/Youth Opportunities Unlimited

• Y  WCA of Kalamazoo

• ONEplace@kpl • O  utFront Kalamazoo

Donors create new funds at KZCF KZCF donors established three new funds since the winter issue of UPDATE. Others types of funds include Designated Funds, Field-of-Interest Funds and Scholarship Funds. UNRESTRICTED FUNDS


These funds address current community needs:

These funds are for donors who want to be actively

• Linden Jr. and Joyce A. Griffin Fund

involved with their fund: • Deb Keenan – In honor of Gordon Scripps Fund for Portage Northern High School • Solstice Foundation Fund

For a complete list of KZCF funds visit kalfound.org/howtogive/listoffunds. Contact a Donor Relations Officer at 269.381.4416 to learn more on how to open a fund. SPRING 2020



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

402 East Michigan Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.381.4416 kalfound.org

Community Response to COVID-19 In March 2020, Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) activated its Community Urgent Relief Fund to address the emerging needs for the most vulnerable community members due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Urgent Relief Fund is supporting nonprofit partners who supply and deliver food, offer childcare – particularly targeted to healthcare workers and first responders – and are helping our most vulnerable families. The partnership has already funded many needs, including food, shelter, cleaning supplies, protective gear for home-site workers, and technology needs to help staff work remotely. Here’s how you can make a donation: • Go online at connect.kalfound.org/communityurgentrelieffund. • Mail a Check - Please make your check payable to “Kalamazoo Community Foundation” and include in the memo line “Community Urgent Relief Fund”. • Contact a Donor Relations Officer at 269.384.4416 to ask about other ways to make a contribution. For more information about actions KZCF is taking to support a safe and healthy community in light of COVID-19, please visit our Community Urgent Relief resource page at kalfound.org.

Profile for Kalamazoo Community Foundation

UPDATE | Spring 2020