Voting For A Cause Final Five

Congratulations to our final five nonprofits in the Voting For A Cause and thank you to the community for voting online to help us narrow down to our final five. Final voting will take place in-person at 5:00pm before the Community Meeting presentation by New York Times Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones 6pm on Tuesday, October 30 at Miller Auditorium. RSVP for the event online today and cast your vote in person!

Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative

Fire Historical & Cultural Arts Collaborative is a 13-year-old 501(c)3 youth-driven space for art and justice in the Edison Neighborhood. At Fire, youth own their personal experiences through creative writing, spoken word and slam poetry about the world they see and the world they imagine. This is done through after school workshops, Open Mics, retreats, lock-ins, our slam poetry team and Teen Advisory Council.

How is your organization or program addressing discrimination in housing and/or education? The next generation can speak for itself. Here youth create, express, and grow to imagine and articulate a more just world through spoken word.

Open Doors Kalamazoo

Established in 1970, Open Doors Kalamazoo was formed to build relationship with and to serve low-income young people. The first program was a drop-in center in the Vine neighborhood which was quickly expanded to include overnight shelter for homeless young men and women. The organization’s primary purpose has been to help homeless young men and women become personally and financially stable. In 2004 we added a program to offer permanent, affordable housing and personal support for shelter guests who successfully complete our shelter program and other low-wage workers at risk of homelessness. Through this growing program we now offer 101 units of housing at a rate affordable to persons working at low wages. Our entry requirements are designed to accept people with the life issues and characteristics of persons who have been homeless.

How is your organization or program addressing discrimination in housing and/or education? We serve a community of all races, faiths, and identities to ensure that anyone who wishes to may call Kalamazoo “home.”

El Concilio

El Concilio has been a non-profit organization since 1981. We focus on four different areas: Access to resources in the community, Family development, Cultural preservation and Interpretation and Translation Services. As a minority group, the Latinx community is often underrepresented and disregarded. One of El Concilio’s goals is to serve as a liaison between the Latinx community and organizations with the resources to assist their needs. The Aztec Academy of Success is dedicated to enforce our values as an organization; it hosts three programs: Tutoring, Soccer, and Folkloric Dance. El Concilio has established a tutoring program in collaboration with Omega Delta Phi Fraternity from WMU. The program takes place during the entire academic year to assist students with their homework and prepare them for exams. Our Aztec Soccer Academy has been an ongoing program since 2015 for which we offer spring, summer and winter leagues for a low cost registration fee to our families. The academy teaches kids about teamwork, communication and good health habits. In Fall 2018, we are starting an Academy of Folkloric Dance for children who are interested in learning traditional dances from the Hispanic culture. The Folkloric Dance team will be able to perform at cultural preservation annual events such as Dia de Los Muertos and Dia de los Reyes (Kings’ Day). El Concilio is an organization supported by the community to assist the community, and we could not do the job we do without the help and support of parents, children, volunteers and partner organizations.

How is your organization or program addressing discrimination in housing and/or education? El Concilio's Aztec Academy Tutoring program serves children in need of bilingual tutors who communicate with parents and listen to educational concerns.

Community Healing Centers - S.T.R.E.E.T After-school program


The S.T.R.E.E.T Program is an after-school program designed to be a breezeway or safe haven for boys, ages 10-17, during critical hours of the day. Located in the heart of the community it serves at, 613 Douglas Street on Kalamazoo’s North Side of town. S.T.R.E.E.T was strategically planned and with an approach that these young males are not “junior criminals”, but rather victims of environmental triggers and trauma. Teens that live at or near the poverty line frequently have multi-generational problems and hard-edged skepticism towards governmental agencies, medical professionals, and all helping professionals and institutions. The challenge is to successfully engage understandably suspicious youth/families in the program planning process and take the necessary time, commitment and a personalized step by step approach to help teens move off the streets and stay out of trouble. We therefore brought the program to the heart of the North Side of Kalamazoo, where most of our youth reside, along with choosing qualified individuals from the neighborhood; adults the youth recognize or with familiar backgrounds to facilitate our program. S.T.R.E.E.T is a prevention program in its truest format to positively impact young males’ lives at an early age, to deter them from becoming institutionalized, and/or to help bridge them back in to the community with the skills necessary to help them become productive future citizens; if they have already experienced incarceration.

How is your organization or program addressing discrimination in housing and/or education? Youth participate in education and homework/tutor time daily. We provide access to technology, ensuring equal opportunities to complete required school work.

ISAAC, Interfaith Strategies for Advocacy & Action in the Community


ISAAC is the largest faith-based organizing group in Southwest Michigan, with 29 member congregations & organizations; is the most racially and religiously diverse organizing group in Kalamazoo; is connected to Gamaliel of Michigan organizations in Detroit, Saginaw and Lansing; and is an affiliate of Gamaliel Foundation, the fastest growing organizing network in the nation.

Every two years, on odd-numbered years, ISAAC does Listening Engagement with people for whom the system is not working well. Then hundreds of members from ISAAC congregations assemble to vote on the three most pressing issues of injustice in Kalamazoo County. They form task forces that identify the root causes and possible solutions to those injustices. At the ISAAC Public Meeting in the fall of even-numbered years, ISAAC leaders ask public officials, candidates, and other community leaders to commit to use their power to support our recommended changes of policy and practice. Then, we hold the officials accountable to their commitments.

At our 2017 Issues Convention, ISAAC congregations chose Anti-Racism, Anti-Poverty and Affordable Housing as our top three priorities, and created a task force on each issue to discern changes of policy and practice to advocate for.  At the 2018 Public Meeting on the evening of October 25, the task forces will ask community leaders to pledge support for the changes we have discerned.

How is your organization or program addressing discrimination in housing and/or education? ISAAC asks public officials, candidates, and community leaders to use their power to support recommended changes to policies that deny housing equity.

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