City Officials, Lead Donors Officially Sign Foundation for Excellence Founding Documents

The legal documents that will establish the new Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence (FFE) were officially signed on Wednesday, August 23  by lead donors Bill Johnston  and Bill Parfet and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell and City Manager James K. Ritsema.  Hopewell and Ritsema represented the City in the signing of the Articles of Incorporation, which the Kalamazoo City Commission approved during its meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017.

The initial donors to the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence, Johnston and Parfet, will now become co-chairs of a fundraising campaign tasked with raising upwards of $ 500 million dollars from corporations, individuals, private foundations, and other interested parties by 2019. Along with the articles of incorporation, a letter of intent signed by the co-chairs will serve as a guideline for a future fifteen-member Board of Directors, nine of whom must reside in Kalamazoo, as they carry out their duties to disperse foundation funds to the City.

The FFE is structured to operate solely for the benefit of the City of Kalamazoo and is believed to be the first entity of its kind in the nation. It will allow for the private sector to make “charitable type” donations to a municipal body (the City of Kalamazoo) in order to support and supplement its normal sources of revenue, thereby aiding dramatically in the City’s ability to flourish.   The FFE is a historic shift from one of scarcity, tough choices, and financial uncertainty to one focused on improving lives in our community, investing in our City, and creating a brighter future.  The FFE intends to complement existing philanthropic efforts in Kalamazoo and to seek opportunities to align the funding community around common goals to achieve greater impact, particularly for those residents experiencing the greatest need.

In recent years, Kalamazoo’s municipal budget has faced structural shortfalls of income created by cutbacks in support from the State of Michigan, reduced property values, and declining employment. As a result, the City has been forced to cover the income gap by cutting back on services such as public safety and road repairs.

The Foundation for Excellence provides funding each year for aspirational projects, alleviating generational poverty, and realizing the community vision that was established in the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Visioning Process that resulted in the City’s new Strategic Vision and Master Plan. These documents were shaped by 3,800 community contacts over an 18 month period with the intention of lifting up the voices of residents in City planning processes.  FFE funding will expedite progress towards Imagine Kalamazoo goals and move the City in a direction that is consistent with our community values.

In 2017, FFE funding has been approved for three park improvements projects, the accelerated removal of lead water services, repairing and building sidewalks, additional tree trimming, and three key Parks & Recreation programs that provide educational and employment opportunities for youth. Property owners have also already seen the effect of the FFE on their summer property tax statements.

"This unique and innovative approach to making Kalamazoo a dynamic and successful community for all is very exciting" said campaign co - chair Bill Johnston. “This collaborative citizen driven planning approach to forming "Imagine Kalamazoo 2025" is energizing. The challenges and opportunities before us are both significant and amazing. Through the Foundation for Excellence as a supporting organization for our great City we now have the mechanism to provide significant program support for the City of Kalamazoo that creates a model that lifts families and breaks the cycle of generational poverty. I am very optimistic that individuals, businesses, private and community foundations will eagerly contribute to this wonderful opportunity before us.”

KDPS, Sheriff Announce 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Submission

Kalamazoo Public Safety and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office will be submitting a joint application for the 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). The local solicitation in the amount of $85,242 will be used in support of law enforcement equipment for local law enforcement personnel and communication equipment for the Kalamazoo County Jail.  The goal of these programs and initiatives is to improve and enhance the criminal justice system in the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo County.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (42 U.S.C. 3751(a)) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system, from multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces to crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives.

The City of Kalamazoo and County of Kalamazoo invite the public to comment on the 2017 JAG application. A copy of the application is available for review at Kalamazoo Public Safety, located at 150 E. Crosstown Pkwy, Suite A, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This draft document will be available through September 28, 2017.  For further information, please call (269) 337-8123.  Comments concerning the JAG application may be addressed to:

Ryan Tibbets
Assistant Chief – Fire Administration/Finance
Kalamazoo Public Safety
150 E. Crosstown Pkwy, Suite A
Kalamazoo, MI  49001

City of Kalamazoo Approves Incorporation of new Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence


The Kalamazoo City Commission passed a resolution approving incorporation of a new foundation, known as the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence (FFE), organized for the purpose of supporting and benefiting the operation and programs of the City of Kalamazoo.

The Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence is a project of singular significance for the fiscal well-being of the City of Kalamazoo. Two lead donors initially provided $70.3 million over three years to stabilize the City’s budget, to lower the property tax rate from 19.2705 mills to 12 mills, and for $10 million of aspirational community projects annually in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

It is the objective of the FFE to raise an additional $500+ million in order to endow the FFE’s work in perpetuity.

The Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation included in Monday night’s resolution were the product of significant work by staff based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Kalamazoo and the lead donors that was approved by the City Commission at its October 24, 2016 Work Session. Additional City Commission Work Sessions were held on October 24, 2016, as well as January 23, July 24, and August 7 of 2017 to thoroughly explore aspects and details of FFE’s creation and to offer extensive and open opportunities for public comment.

Numerous technical, human, and economic resources were consulted to inform the planning of the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence, but few will shape the FFE’s work as definitively as the citizen input cultivated by the Imagine Kalamazoo process or its resulting ten-year Strategic Vision, which was approved by the City Commission on July 17, 2017, and forthcoming Master Plan.

Information on the Kalamazoo Foundation For Excellence can be found at


City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.


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     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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