In His Words: Dick St. John

Dick St. John brings an “insider’s” view to giving from his years working in public affairs at The Upjohn Company and in development at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. He discusses why he and his wife, Jan, chose to create an Unrestricted Fund.

Jan and I established The St. John Family Endowment Fund in 1994 with the idea that an Unrestricted Fund that lasts in perpetuity could be used for whatever the community’s most pressing needs in the future might be. Dr. Upjohn understood this concept when he established the Kalamazoo Community Foundation in 1925. He couldn’t imagine what the community would need in the future.

We’ve known about the Community Foundation and respected it since I worked at The Upjohn Company. We have always had the utmost confidence in its board of trustees, which ultimately makes the decisions about how funds should be used. Over the years, all of the board members have stayed very active and involved in the community. We believe that 10 or 25 years from now, the board will be in the best position to determine how to make life better throughout Kalamazoo County. Jan and I wanted to make it as easy for them to meet community needs as possible.

One example of this is the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center. It was initially funded as The Upjohn Company’s centennial anniversary gift to the community. It brought the school districts together and turned out to be a phenomenal success. Kalamazoo Community Foundation unrestricted resources have been used over the years to support KAMSC outreach programs like the Sizzlin’ Summer Science Program. No one could have foreseen how important KAMSC would be to area students.

In addition to the board, I would also mention how much we respect the Community Foundation’s Financial Investment Committee. They make sure any endowed investment lives on in perpetuity, and they have one of the best track records in town for their investment prowess. We know that “unrestricted” does not mean those funds will be expended in one fell swoop. Because of the expertise of the board, the finance committee and the Community Foundation’s staff, our gift will essentially be there forever to help support the community.

To view the entire list of our Unrestricted Funds –– like the one created by the St. John –– click here.

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