Kzoo Foundation for Excellence: funds are for city’s vision

Board members of the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence hold a meeting on Oct, 27, 2017.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence is a multi-million dollar endowment fund that was incorporated in August.

Since the Foundation for Excellence was created, people have been coming up with new and different ways to spend the foundation’s money. On Friday, members of the board of directors said, “Not so fast.”

It’s new and it’s different, two private donors giving more than $70 million to stabilize Kalamazoo’s budget, reduce property taxes and pay for community projects.

“This is a grand, new experiment,” said Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, who sits on the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence Board of Directors.

The Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence was incorporated in August. The IRS recently gave the organization its 501(c)(3) non-profit designation.

“I’m trying to make sure people understand the responsibilities of the city commission and when it comes to projects, development and design…and then the responsibility or the connection to the foundation,” Hopewell said. “People get those mixed up.”

When people get that mixed up, Hopewell says, people think they can go directly to the foundation to fund their projects.

“What I’m trying to help everyone that thinks they’re going to be dipping into these dollars, everyone’s not, first of all,” Hopewell said. “Things are going to be prioritized through the city’s budget.”

Another board member emphasized the foundation’s

“The (foundation) is not a grant-making body to anybody but the City of Kalamazoo,” said Clyde Robinson, temporary legal counsel for the foundation.

Instead, the Foundation for Excellence board can make recommendations to the Kalamazoo City Commission. In turn, the commission will vote on the allocation, based on what the board presents.

“So, coming to a meeting of the foundation board and saying, ‘Hey you need to fund my program,’ that doesn’t work,” said Hopewell.

Hopewell says the foundation is a funding source that follows the city’s strategic vision.

“We’re going to be very strategic,” he said. “And we love everybody that wants to do something. And they think their program is the best program in the world and all that.  But we got to be strategic and smart.”