Date: August 1, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Kalamazoo Community Foundation Forms the 2023 Environmental Justice Committee
Kalamazoo, Mich. –
“This committee seeks to ensure that people who come from historically underserved communities are proud and happy about what they see and experience when they go into their neighborhoods,” said Tshepo Mathekga, community investment officer at KZCF. “Our environmental justice funding seeks to ensure the meaningful involvement of people in issues that impact the health and sustainability of our neighborhoods and environment. We want our communities to be beautiful, dignified and safe.”
KZCF has formed the 2023 Environmental Justice Committee. Comprised of seven community members, the committee oversees KZCF’s Love Where You Live Environment Fund grantmaking. Committee members are responsible for reviewing grant proposals, making funding recommendations and gathering information to help inform the grantmaking practices and priorities of the Love Where You Live Environment Fund.
“With this Environmental Justice Committee, we are taking a more people-centered approach to our work, in addition to focusing on natural preservation,” said Mathekga. “This committee has an opportunity to speak to the issues that are affecting residents. We are thinking about how we can champion programs that will improve the everyday lives of our community members.”
This committee, originally created in 1998, consists of members of a variety of identities and lived experiences. Additionally, multiple committee members are residents of the neighborhoods that have historically faced the most environmental harm. By incorporating these voices into discussions about reducing or eliminating environmental harm, KZCF hopes to redistribute power in the grantmaking process.
“Our committee members have educational expertise, lived experience and passion for the community we live in,” Mathekga said. “All of this brings added depth to the meaning of this work.
For Fayyaz Razi, a former Youth Advisory Council member, joining the Environmental Justice Committee felt like a step in the right direction following his work with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
“I decided to join the KZCF Environmental Justice Committee because it’s another way in which I can have an impact and fight for more equitable environmental outcomes for everyone,” said Razi.
He encourages high school students to get active and remain involved in the decision-making processes taking place at the local level. For him, joining the Environmental Justice Committee was a great way to partner with others who are passionate about supporting the Kalamazoo community.
“Half of the opportunities, half of the experiences I've been incredibly blessed to have throughout high school, happened because I kind of just put myself out there and threw my hat in the ring,” said Razi. “I said, ‘My voice has value, and I think I deserve to be heard.’ For other young people who want to be involved in the political or the nonprofit spaces, don't be afraid to make your voice heard or believe that your voice has value.”
The committee will begin accepting applications for funding in November.
To learn more about the Love Where You Live Environment Fund, please visit kalfound.org/grants/specialty-grants/environment-fund.
About Kalamazoo Community Foundation
KZCF, established in 1925, has the vision of Kalamazoo County being the most equitable place to live, with the mission to mobilize people, resources and expertise and to advance racial, social and economic justice. Learn more at kalfound.org.