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 Tshepo Mathekga, community investment officer at KZCF. “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.
Why did you choose to join KZCF’s 2023 Environmental Justice Committee?
Laura Sacha: It is my view that predominantly white institutions fail to address environmental justice issues because they do not prioritize these issues over more colonial approaches to land stewardship and conservation. I believe that every single person benefits when we return land and land‐based practices to BIPOC, and those seeking to address any environmental issue need to start by making land returns and reparations a top priority.
Ana Celorio: The climate emergency is more significant than ever. The instability of current times and the post‐pandemic crisis make it urgent to work for and build better and stronger communities. I want to work towards aiding and allocating funds for projects that engage in this. We can all thrive if we work together and address the most urgent situations as they are happening.
Saul Mack III: I am interested in being a part of the Environmental Justice Committee to bring more insight and knowledge to the group and help recommend changes to improve the living conditions in distressed neighborhoods.
Bionca Stewart: I am interested in being a part of this Environmental Justice Committee because I am an environmental justice community organizer, and I want to contribute all my skill sets to this position.
Dr. Vicki DeVould: I am interested in being a part of the Environmental Justice Committee because everyone, regardless of race, color, gender and your financial status, is entitled to equal protection from environmental harm and risks. I view that this committee is about real people facing real problems while implementing and designing practical solutions to bridge the gap with the challenges that stem from environmental issues.
Bobby Boyd: As a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo and a person of color, I think it is of the utmost importance to have someone with lived experience specific to the community to have a voice in combatting the environmental injustices the underserved areas of the city are encountering. I believe that by focusing on environmental justice, we can promote sustainable development that benefits all members of society, protects public health and makes sure the communities most impacted have a say in the decisions that affect their well‐being.
Fayyaz Razi: I am interested in being a part of the Environmental Justice Committee because I believe that in all decision‐making bodies, there is a need for youth voices and perspectives at the table.
To learn more about the Love Where You Live Environment Fund, please visit kalfound.org/grants/specialty-grants/environment-fund.