Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) Impact Investment Committee has approved loans to Black Wall Street Kalamazoo (BWSK) and the LIFT Foundation (LIFT).

Black Wall Street Kalamazoo is a collaborative initiative working with local community and national organizations to increase the awareness and visibility of Black business within the Kalamazoo Community. Their KZCF Impact Investment Loan will support the acquisition of a property in the Edison neighborhood, with plans of creating a coworking and business incubator space. Through dedicating a physical space to Black entrepreneurship, BWSK aims to lower the disparate barriers that Black entrepreneurs face in finding reasonably priced spaces to grow and sustain businesses. They will continue to use this new venture to provide culturally competent and relevant support to grow wealth-building opportunities.

Also receiving an Impact Investment Loan is the LIFT Foundation, a community resource for building, preserving, operating, and maintaining homes for people with low incomes in west Michigan. With their loan, LIFT plans to repurpose the Knights Inn motel in the Vine neighborhood to provide shelter for community members experiencing homelessness. The need for immediate shelter has increased as the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the access of day shelters and prompted people to seek shelter in encampments, where health and safety concerns and lack of access to bathrooms, running water and food put individuals and families at risk. In the long term, LIFT plans to convert immediate shelter into affordable studio apartments for community members with low income.

"Kalamazoo Community Foundation is excited to announce the approval of these two new Impact Investment Loans," said Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, vice president of Community Investment. "We look forward to the positive impacts they will make in Kalamazoo with the expansion of entrepreneurship opportunities for people of color and housing access for our homeless population, two key priorities in making Kalamazoo County a more equitable place to live."

Impact Investment Loans are a special financing option for projects that support community growth in three goal areas:
  • Increase access to housing
    Community development projects that advance housing equity by increasing affordable rental housing and addressing housing insecurity in Kalamazoo.
  • Support and expand BIPOC wealth-building opportunities
    Programs and projects that aim to address the racial wealth gap and build wealth among Kalamazoo’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities through initiatives like home ownership and entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • Develop nonprofit infrastructure
    Capital projects for nonprofits seeking to improve a facility and/or infrastructure to advance equitable outcomes in Kalamazoo.
About Impact Investing at KZCF
Formerly known as Program-Related Investments, Impact Investment Loans have been instrumental in supporting innovative community projects like The Creamery in the Edison neighborhood set to open this year. Other loan recipients include area nonprofits and three Kalamazoo-based venture capital limited partnerships.
The Community Foundation’s Impact Investment Committee reviews applications four times a year using a Racial Equity Impact Assessment Guide to ensure alignment with investment priorities. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information about the Impact Investment Loan and application process, visit https://www.kalfound.org/ImpactInvestment/ or email Martha Gonzalez-Cortes at mgonzalez-cortes@kalfound.org.

About KZCF
KZCF, established in 1925, has the vision of Kalamazoo County being the most equitable place to live, with the mission to remove barriers through building relationships and connecting resources so people can reach full potential. Learn more at kalfound.org.