It was front-page news. It was street-corner conversation: The 80-year-old will of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s original donor was still at work, bringing us our largest single gift ever.
Dr. William E. Upjohn had to be smiling, not just because the original intent of his will was being followed, but because the community he loved so much succeeded in coming to this agreement through a spirit of cooperation. The announcement this past June by the Kalamazoo County Probate Court resolved the question of the W.E. Upjohn Prizes Trust.
"This is a great settlement and we appreciate the positive relationships that made this resolution possible," said our president/CEO, Carrie Pickett-Erway, at the time of the announcement. "This decision honors the legacy of W.E. Upjohn, who had a special interest in rewarding the pursuit of excellence while investing locally in both people and place."
She added, "This amazing gift speaks to the importance of donor intent, the idea of legacy, and the power of unrestricted giving. This gift significantly heightens our flexibility in providing investments to nonprofits to address Kalamazoo County’s greatest needs."
The agreement calls for a portion of the $44 million trust to be distributed to the Community Foundation. The assets remaining in the trust will continue to be used for the William E. Upjohn Prizes, an awards program under which Pfizer honors its employees for their special accomplishments. The Community Foundation’s portion is $23 million.
In 2014, the W.E. Upjohn Community Fund will generate more than $810,000 to address needs in Kalamazoo County and increase our flexible resources by 15 percent.
The Community Foundation has endowed the majority of these assets in the newly-established W.E. Upjohn Community Fund. This Unrestricted Fund will generate more than $810,000 next year, which will be used to make community investments (grants) that address Kalamazoo County’s most pressing needs, and increase our flexible resources by about 15 percent.
Because these dollars are endowed and invested, the annual amount available from this fund will increase over time.Unrestricted resources enable the Community Foundation to do a better job in addressing current pressing needs, while still ensuring that enough resources are available in the future.
Dr. Upjohn, who started The Upjohn Company in 1886, inspired the creation of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation in 1925 and was its first donor. His will provided for numerous other gifts to the Community Foundation, which today are valued at about $60 million of our almost $400 million of assets.