During this Black History Month, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) is honored to shine a spotlight on the incredible contributions of our Black and African American donors. Through their generous donations, which have spanned the course of decades, KZCF has been able to continue the work of helping to make Kalamazoo the most equitable place to live.

Kindness, generosity and respect for others are among some of the core values Valerie Mitchell, a Kalamazoo native and long-time staff member of KZCF, holds dear. For Mitchell, her journey with KZCF began more than 20 years ago when she joined the Philanthropic Services & Development team (formerly Donor Relations). At the time, Mitchell was new to philanthropy and was learning more about how it had the power to transform the lives of others. As her knowledge of philanthropy grew along with her trust in the values and mission of KZCF, she decided to become a donor by making a planned gift to the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Kalamazoo Michigan Fund.

I believe in the mission and the vision that the Foundation wants. Reaching out to the community and having community partners doing this work, it’s very important work.

- Valerie Mitchell, KZCF Donor

By the time Mitchell retired from KZCF, she had been a member of nearly every team at the organization and nurtured several relationships with countless community members and donors. To celebrate her retirement and honor her years of service, KZCF named one of its unrestricted funds after her, the Valerie Mitchell Loves Where She Lives Fund. Now, Mitchell advocates for other members of the Black community to get involved in philanthropy. She particularly encourages Black-led churches and other organizations to incorporate philanthropy into their community investment plans.

“I think that if you're passionate about your community and wanting to make a difference, sometimes we have to go over and above some things that we don't know to become a better part of the community,” Mitchell said.

Share a gift today to join Valerie Mitchell in making an impact that lasts!