We want our community to be a place where everyone is safe from harm and has the opportunity to grow and thrive. Achieving safety for all requires an engaged and connected community.

In the fall of 2021, both the city and county of Kalamazoo declared gun violence a public health crisis. Jen Heymoss, vice president of Initiatives & Public Policy, sees that shift as a necessary step toward addressing the prevalence of gun violence and finding sustainable solutions.

“A public health approach connects gun violence to the social determinants of health,” Heymoss said. “We’re looking for upstream interventions, and that’s what a public health approach does.” Social determinants of gun violence can include trauma, poverty and a lack of access to education and mental health care. To address these factors, KZCF adopted the Blueprint for Peace, a gun violence prevention model created by Reggie Moore, director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement for the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Devised with input from his community, Moore’s model was effective in reducing gun violence in the project’s birthplace, Milwaukee. “We can’t piecemeal our way out of this,” Moore said. “We can’t say, ‘Okay, we’re going to give $10 for violence prevention and continue to give $100 million for cops, courts and cages.’ At the end of the day, there has to be an equitable investment if we are truly serious about addressing this comprehensively.”

Every system, every role, every organization and institution – everybody has a role to play.

- Reggie Moore, Director, Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement for the Medical College of Wisconsin

Captain Stacey Ledbetter, one of the community leaders who joined the learning group for this initiative, was pleased to see everyone working together to achieve a collective goal. “It was confirming to see that other community members know that collaboration is essential and that it is important to get personal testimonies and suggestions from those with lived experience,” Ledbetter said.

In accordance with Moore’s model, KZCF understands that implementing long-term solutions to the issue of gun violence in our community is a collaborative and ongoing effort.

To read all of the stories from our 2022 Annual Report, click here.