Imagine a vibrant, prosperous, and equitable city, where people want to live, work, and raise families. Imagine being a more beautiful and livable city each year, more innovative and connected. Imagine having more jobs and less poverty, and providing young people with the jump-starts they need in life.
Structural budget challenges have for many years impeded the City’s effort to make its vision a reality. The Foundation For Excellence is a unique innovation by the City of Kalamazoo and private donors to address systemic challenges to the prosperity of the city. The Foundation provides millions of dollars each year to stabilize the city’s budget, lower its property tax rate, and invest in aspirational community projects. A community fundraising effort will be launched to create a fully endowed foundation that can sustain this funding in perpetuity.
The Foundation’s financial model is being structured in such a way as to do the most good with the most efficient use of resources possible. The Foundation will work to establish strategic partnerships with organizations whose mission and work aligns with the goals and objectives of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Strategic Vision and Master Plan, the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo plan, and the City of Kalamazoo. These plans are built around the City’s deep investment in broad community involvement and collaboration. Each reflects a pathway to improve life for all residents of Kalamazoo.
Please note that because the Foundation for Excellence is incorporated as a supporting organization to the City of Kalamazoo, IRA rollover contributions can be accepted but will not be tax deductible.
The FFE strives to maintain the highest ethical standards and maximum transparency in everything it does. All meetings are announced in advance and open to the public subject to Open Meetings Act. In 2018, the Board of Directors unanimously approved core governance policies, including those regarding conflicts of interest, diversity and equal opportunity, financial accountability, and whistleblower protections.
An open document library including all policies and documents is available below.
The Foundation for Excellences also produces a newsletter each year highlighting some of the projects and programs that it supports, and an annual report that provides financial information and other required disclosures. These are available in the document library and the most recent publication is embedded below.
Board of Directors
The FFE bylaws establish a 15-member Board of Directors. Ten members are stakeholder directors, each representing a community interest such as healthcare, education, or business. Five are City Directors, representing the City of Kalamazoo generally. These members include the Mayor, City Manager, two City Commissioners, and one At-Large representative from the city. Stakeholder and At-Large terms rotate every three years while City Directors serve for the duration of their employment or elected service. A significant initiative is undertaken to cultivate a Board that is largely representative of the community and that will add unique insights about every facet of Kalamazoo.
The FFE’s bylaws state that one-third of board positions expire each year, meaning there are opportunities annually for everyone in the community to participate. Board members are responsible for attending at least three meetings per year and contributing to the responsible and transparent operation of the foundation. There are no requirements on previous board membership or restrictions on who can apply, (though an overall percentage of city residents is required). Positions expire on June 30 each year and vacancies are announced along with application instructions in December.
|Dr. Angela Graham-Williams, President||Sandra Calderon-Huezo||Charlene Taylor|
|James K. Ritsema, Vice President||Alisa Carrel||Jack C. Urban|
|Adam McFarlin, Treasurer||Nathan Dannison||Von Washington, Jr.|
|Barbara Hamilton-Miller, Secretary||Rachel Lonberg||Bobby J. Hopewell, Director Emeritus|
|David Anderson||Alice Taylor|
Foundation for Excellence Staff
The FFE employs four staff members to manage the governance of the foundation and administer its programs. FFE staff are employees of the City of Kalamazoo and includes Deputy City Manager Laura Lam, Foundation for Excellence Coordinator Steve Brown, Youth Development Coordinator Chad Wendt, Neighborhood Activator Katie Reilly, and Shared Prosperity Coordinator Kevin Ford.