The Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) has secured a $1.5 million grant award from The Stryker Johnston Foundation to create a Justice Hub in Kalamazoo County. KZCF will house the community-driven initiative until its nonprofit status is finalized this summer.
The Kalamazoo Justice Hub will serve as a central organizing space for social justice leaders and an incubator for organizations and projects that address systemic oppression in the community.
Additionally, the Justice Hub will make it easier for the Community Foundation to fund and build the capacity of grassroots efforts addressing community needs and aspirations in Kalamazoo County.
“Funder structures and requirements are often incompatible with the fast-paced, direct nature of grassroots and mutual aid efforts. The Hub will build a bridge for resource sharing and funding, making it easier for grassroots projects that are not affiliated with an existing 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to receive financial and capacity-building support.”
- Jen Heymoss, Vice President of Initiatives & Public Policy at KZCF
In 2018, Mia Henry of Freedom Lifted and Matt Lechel of ONEplace met with local organizations to explore the idea of a Justice Hub and brought the idea forward to local funders. In 2020, The KZCF Community Investment team began investigating solutions for resourcing mutual aid and grassroots groups doing critical work to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
The team enlisted Mia Henry and consultant, Bailey Mead, to conduct listening sessions with community members in 2020, followed by a Justice Hub exploratory study in 2021. The urgency and importance of the Justice Hub concept re-emerged as a priority to address systemic oppression. The overwhelming benefits of such a project for Kalamazoo County were clear.
Mead is leading the development of the Kalamazoo Justice Hub, which is planned to open in September.
“Everyday people have a multitude of solutions to the challenges our communities face, and systemic obstacles have prevented them from accessing the resources and support needed to make these projects a reality."
- Bailey Mead, Justice Hub consultant
“Everyday people have a multitude of solutions to the challenges our communities face, and systemic obstacles have prevented them from
accessing the resources and support needed to make these projects a reality,” Mead said. “As more than a resource center and fiscal sponsor, the Justice Hub will facilitate capacity-building in a strong, ethical and sustainable way by centering relationships, cultivating trust and sharing resources and skills to build power and possibility.”
Eleven community members have joined the organization’s Soul Trust (a play on brain trust) to offer wisdom and guidance to the Hub. Both the Soul Trust and the board of directors are comprised of people with direct experience leading or supporting grassroots projects in Kalamazoo County.
In addition to the three-year general operating grant from the Stryker Johnston Foundation, the Justice Hub received seed funding in 2020 through the joint efforts of the Kalamazoo Funders Racial Equity Coalition. This included grants from the Stryker Johnston Foundation, KZCF, and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.