This week the Kalamazoo Community Foundation joins more than 700 community foundations across the U.S. in observing Community Foundation Week.

For more than 20 years, the effort has raised awareness about the increasingly important role community foundations play in addressing immediate community needs as well as supporting long-term solutions to persistent challenges like hunger, homelessness, unemployment and access to health care.

"The Kalamazoo Community Foundations addresses needs, impacts lives and improves the quality of life throughout Kalamazoo County," says Don Vander Kooy, interim president/chief executive officer, Kalamazoo Community Foundation. "In a down economy, with limited resources and a growing need for services to help people who need it, we are more determined than ever to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions to some of our most challenging problems."

Some examples of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's impact on the greater Kalamazoo community include:

  • Partnering with its donors to provide $15.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in 2010.
  • Awarding $1.1 million in scholarships to 416 Kalamazoo area students in 2010.
  • Collaborating with the Greater Kalamazoo United Way to establish the Lifeline Initiative, through which more than $2.2 million has been invested in the work of more than 50 local nonprofits working to address immediate community needs since the spring of 2010.
  • Hosting Match Day in June 2010, which resulted in nearly $339,000 in donations to the endowment funds of 56 Kalamazoo County nonprofits. The Community Foundation and PNC Bank contributed $114,000 in matching funds, which means that in just one day, nearly half a million dollars was given to help address community needs.
  • Passing a resolution declaring the Community Foundation an anti-racist organization and the establishment of its Racial Equity Initiative in October 2010.
  • Supporting the professional development of the greater Kalamazoo area’s current and future business and nonprofit leaders by serving as the lead sponsor for Southwest Michigan First's Catalyst University in January 2011 and again in January 2012.
  • Joining with community partners from public, private and nonprofit sectors to create The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo in June 2011.
  • Recognizing professional advisors for their efforts to advance philanthropy and encourage charitable giving throughout Kalamazoo County in July 2011
  • Providing the community with the opportunity to learn from author and children's advocate Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer, Harlem Children's Zone, at its annual Community Meeting in August 2011.

Gifts donors give to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation become part of a permanent endowment, which means they will Kalamazoo County forever. The Community Foundation invests the gifts it so they grow as much as market conditions allow and maximize the resources available to address community needs now and in the future.

Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy. Every state in the U.S. is home to at least one community foundation—large and small, urban and rural—that is advancing solutions to a wide range of social issues. A 2010 survey by CFInsights (Boston) found that despite the recession, giving by the nation’s 100 largest community foundations actually increased slightly in 2010 to $3.7 billion and exceeded prerecession levels seen in 2006 and 2007.

Founded in 1925, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation enhances the quality of life for all in the greater Kalamazoo area through community leadership and the stewardship of permanently endowed funds. The Community Foundation’s community investment priorities are Early Childhood Learning and School Readiness, Economic and Community Development, Individuals and Families, and Youth Development.