Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo

Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo is a community collaborative initiated by the Kalamazoo City Commission to promote increased access to well-paying jobs, strong & economically secure families, and healthy growth, development and learning for all our kids.

The Goal

The core of our plan to promote more broadly shared prosperity in Kalamazoo is to enable more residents of the city to access good jobs. We are convinced that this is fundamental for the well-being of Kalamazoo’s children and their families, as well as for the very future of our city. We also believe that with a strong plan and the active involvement of stakeholders from across our community, this is something that we can accomplish.

The Challenge

  • Too many Kalamazoo residents who want to work can’t find jobs, and for many of those who do, the jobs they have are only part-time or do not pay enough to support a family above the poverty line.
  • The median income of Kalamazoo families in 2013 of $40,679 was only two-thirds of that for the state of Michigan ($60,849) and just 63 percent of the national median income.
  • 32 percent of Kalamazoo families with children had incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 21 percent statewide and 18 percent nationally.
  • Two-thirds of the 2,900 Kalamazoo families with incomes below the federal poverty line have at least one family member who works.
  • If we were to do nothing, not only would the future of low income children and their families be jeopardized, but so would the financial future of the city. This lesson was underscored by the recent downgrading of our municipal bonds, with the prevalence of poverty in the city being cited as the main reason.

As of August 2017, SPK Task Force has engaged Moore Strategic Consulting to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve the three goals of the initiative. Goal Teams are now being formed to research and prioritize strategies in each of the goal areas.  

The work of these teams will be integrated and connected in Task Force meetings to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Consider the current reality in Kalamazoo looking at data, research and community experiences. 
  • Evaluate current efforts designed to improve conditions. 
  • Identify gaps in current efforts and options for expanded or new initiatives to address the gaps. 
  • Identify priority action steps and long term strategies for the SPK plan.

SPK is on schedule for specific goals, strategies, and indicators as well as an ongoing management structure to be defined by the Task Force in November with anticipated recommendations for consideration by the Commission in December.

A more thorough update is avaialble in an August 25, 2017 memo from SPK to the City Commission available  pdf here (183 KB)

Steering Committee

The activities of Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo are guided by a steering committee consisting of:

    • Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell
    • City Commissioner Don Cooney
    • Dr. Timothy Ready, Western Michigan University Lewis Walker Institute
    • Laura Lam, Assistant City Manager
    • Ben Damerow, W. E. Upjohn Institute, Employment Management Services Division Director 
    • Kevin Ford, Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Coordinator
    • Dorla Bonner, Community Development Manager
    • Sean Fletcher, Director of Parks & Recreation
    • Matt Lynn, Director of Community Impact, United Way of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Region


If you have a question, comment, or suggestion for Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo, please let us know. You can reach SPK by mail to City of Kalamazoo, City Manager's Office, 241 W South Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 or by completing the form below. 


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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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 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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