City Commission Approves Foundation For Excellence Agreement

At a Special Work Session Held on October 24, the Kalamazoo City Commission voted to approve an initial agreement for the creation of the proposed Foundation For Excellence.

The agreement is outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Kalamazoo and the Foundation’s lead donors. After it was introduced on July 28, the City Commission directed City Manager Jim Ritsema to continue developing the Foundation For Excellence model and bring a proposal to the Commission for review. This MOU is the first step in that process and will provide a basis for the more detailed work to come.

The MOU states that the donors agree to provide a donation of $70.3 million over the next three years; to generate support and contributions from additional donors for the Foundation for Excellence; to promote and support a goal of having the Foundation fully endowed within three years.

The City agrees to create a separate City-controlled fund to receive the initial donation; to create the non-profit Foundation for Excellence entity by August 31, 2017 into which the donation and future contributions will be deposited; to develop a budget for fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019 that incorporates a 12 mill tax rate; to allocate $10 million in each of those years to aspirational projects for youth development & poverty reduction, investments in capital and human infrastructure, and neighborhood improvement projects; to continue exploring further budgetary savings through shared services; and to develop best practices and measures to demonstrate the impact of the donation, efforts, and initiatives.

Rob Collier, the President and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations, attended the October 17 City Commission meeting to offer suggestions for the development of the Foundation For Excellence, and also provided advice in a  pdf (133 KB) Letter to Mayor Hopewell and City Manager Jim Ritsema. City Officials will continue consulting with other foundations and subject matter experts to ensure the Foundation is structured in the optimal way to benefit all members of our community in perpetuity.

City Officials will now begin establishing the legal rules that will govern and regulate the activities of the Foundation. The final plan will be returned to the City Commission for approval before the Foundation For Excellence is officially created.

More information on the Foundation For Excellence is available at

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.


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