Irving S. Gilmore Foundation

Public Media Network/All Ears Theatre

All Ears Theatre debuted in January 2002 as a collaboration of local artists organized by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. We specialize in creating audio-style theatre performances using local sound effects artists, musicians, actors and recording artists, just like in the Golden Age of radio.

All Ears Theatre offers free, live performances and is one of the few theatre groups where people can participate even if they have little time for rehearsal, have a hard time memorizing lines or just don’t “look the part.”

We believe in making performance art accessible regardless of financial position. Performances are recorded and re-broadcast, primarily on SoundCloud. We have also begun adding ASL interpretation to live performances to share our stories with all present. Public Media Network has also been video recording live performances to be shared with those who cannot attend in person.

All Ears Theatre is led by Laura Henderson-Whiteford and our fiscal sponsor is Public Media Network.

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New Year’s Fest

It’s hard to believe that New Year’s Fest has been happening in Kalamazoo since 1985! Not a year has been missed, even during COVID. We have survived ice storms, Y2K and sub-zero temperatures living out our purpose to entertain through the celebration of the performing arts.

Uniquely, this performing arts festival has become a tradition where toddlers that grew upon New Year’s Fest are now bringing their kids to celebrate the experience that performing arts unveil. With short repeating performances throughout the night, New Year’s Fest’s formula of “a taste of the arts” allows families to negotiate an evening that supports something for everyone.

As the fireworks light up the sky and the ball drops at midnight, the community can feel the allure of Times Square right in the heart of Downtown Kalamazoo. People of all walks of life come together to start a new year.

Behind the scenes, New Year’s Fest tells a story of supporting our artists, enabling performances from both emerging and experienced artists. This is what makes the event “artist-unique” as well as empowering. New Year’s Fest is working to be relevant in an ever-changing performing arts landscape. To present a more inclusive festival, our Board of Directors has pledged to hire 20 percent BIPOC performers with a commitment to supporting emerging artist groups.

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Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Center

The mission of the Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Center is to provide music education to urban and under-resourced youth as a pathway to success and excellence in all areas of life. Our namesake, Helen Fox, taught music lessons in the community for many years, accepting only what students could afford to pay.

Jasmine “Dryw” Starkey-Williams is one of our many success stories, having joined our program as a 13-year-old 7th grader at Hillside Middle School. Due to the generosity of donors, HLFGMC was able to offer Jasmine a full scholarship to cover the cost of her lessons and instrument rental. Over time, she developed as a cellist and as a person. She gained confidence in her ability and performed at recitals and community events with the ensemble and as a soloist.

Now, Jasmine is a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School. She is currently enrolled in Kalamazoo Valley Community College and plans to further her education. In an essay she wrote while in high school, this is some of what she said about the Music Center program.

“. . .I have been playing cello for six years. My family has been struggling financially for a longtime, so music lessons . . . were something we often simply could not afford. The Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Program changed my life in many ways. I have been studying under Jordan Hamilton for almost three years. He is a brilliant musician and an amazing instructor. His words of wisdom have at times kept me going. My ensemble teacher is Alexis Terrain. She is also an extraordinary musician and incredibly patient. I enjoy many genres of music but some of the classical composers that I am very fond of include Mozart, Beethoven, Bizet and Tchaikovsky.…”

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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Founded in 1981, Disability Network Southwest Michigan actively works to create a fully accessible community where disability is valued as human diversity, and everyone belongs. The strength of our organization lies in the fact that most of our team members and governing board are people with disabilities, bringing a unique blend of lived experiences and professional expertise to our work.

We COLLABORATE with community partners to ensure our reach extends to underserved and unserved communities, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and diversity.

We ELEVATE diversity, equity and inclusion through the disability lens, through comprehensive education and creating accessible spaces focused on changing perceptions while enhancing inclusion and participation in our community.

We NAVIGATE complex systems and connect individuals to resources as the foundation of our work, providing individuals with the necessary tools and resources to advocate for themselves and lead self-determined lives.

We CONNECT and support individuals within the Disability Community through educational programs and support groups to share experiences, build networks of support and work collectively towards a more inclusive society.

We ACTIVATE grassroots, systemic change at the individual, local, state and national levels, advocating for policies and practices that promote equality and justice for individuals with disabilities.

We CULTIVATE resources to nurture team excellence, ensure long-term sustainability and practice responsible stewardship of funds.

Disability Network believes that embracing diversity and advancing inclusion not only benefits individuals with disabilities but also strengthens the entire community, creating a more vibrant, equitable and inclusive society for everyone.

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Kairos Dwelling

Kairos Dwelling is a home with a very unique and special purpose. We provide no-cost care in a compassionate and loving environment for terminally ill people and their loved ones.

Established in 2000, we coordinate and provide hospice care for patients and families regardless of life status, station or circumstances, and give priority to those with the greatest needs. We do this relying on dedicated, trained staff and volunteers who provide primary patient care.

We are located on Gull Road in Kalamazoo in a remodeled four-bedroom farmhouse. With community support, we recently completed a capital improvement project designed to increase our effectiveness and efficiency. We identified the need for private space on the ground floor for families and caregivers, and an accessible office for the Executive Director. Our facilities had provided neither.

We sought a private gathering space for families contemplating and preparing for the death of a family member. At any given time, up to four families might be in this process, yet we didn’t have enough space to provide confidentiality and privacy. Our new “family room” is a multi-purpose space that provides for this need and more.

Our new Director’s office on the ground floor improves communication and interaction with patients and families. It also serves to improve patient care and coordination with hospice nurses, medical staff and Kairos staff. Kairos Dwelling is an integral part of our community. With these recently enhanced facilities, we look forward to continuing to provide our unique service to the greater Kalamazoo area.

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Milestone Senior Services

Milestone Senior Services recognizes and promotes the value of aging in place. For more than sixty years, we have provided services that support older adults and adults with disabilities in their choice to remain living at home where they are connected to their family, friends, neighbors and cultural community.

Last year, Milestone served more than 5,500 people with services such as home-delivered meals, home repair and accessibility modifications, managed home health care, and behavioral health assistance. These services directly impact whether people can remain living at home or are forced to relocate to a nursing facility.

Milestone’s capital campaign is addressing much-needed upgrades to our facility and equipment to increase the capacity and cost-effectiveness of our operations and improve overall efficiency. Specifically, we are upgrading kitchen equipment, providing a covered loading dock for the Meals on Wheels program, constructing a home repair workshop, creating a more welcoming entrance and replacing the HVAC system.

People 65 and older are the fastest growing population segment, with an expected increase of 47 percent in the next 30 years. The improvements Milestone is making today will ensure we are positioned to meet our community’s growing need for our vital services.

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Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan

Over the past year, 172 learners at Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan’s Adult Education and Training Program have made positive strides towards their academic, professional and personal goals. In 2023, 20 adult learners earned their GED certificate. Of them, 14 were parents who are serving as role models and first teachers of their children.

Our program provides more than academic, training and testing support. It gives wraparound services that remove barriers to learning such as childcare, education, employment, financial, health and transportation for every learner that needs it. This includes free childcare for children ages 0-4 at the Little Scholars Child Development Center, offered onsite to allow parents and children to learn simultaneously.

Some of our proudest moments are when our programs adult learners take the stage at graduation to receive their diploma in front of their families after their hard work passing GED tests in math, language arts, social studies and science. Many of these graduates have gone on to successful careers in manufacturing, early childhood education and health care, or have continued their education in community college, a four-year university or the trades.

The Adult Education and Training Program at Goodwill is supported by many partners who are committed to the success of the adult learners we serve, including Kalamazoo Adult Education, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University. We are grateful for the continued support of the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation for helping the adult learners and families we serve succeed.

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is celebrating a remarkable milestone in 2024 — 50 years of dedicated service to Kalamazoo County. For half a century, the KLC has been the leading voice for adult literacy in the region, offering free services for adults seeking to improve their literacy, language and life skills to unlock their full potential. Through its innovative programs and passionate volunteers, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council has transformed countless lives and empowered individuals to be more confident parents, employees and community members.

One of the KLC’s flagship programs is its Adult Tutoring Program, which provides one-on-one tutoring that enhances reading, writing, spelling and comprehension skills. Through Parent Literacy, Health Literacy, and Workforce Literacy classes, learners gain the critical skills they need to excel. The KLC also offers English as a Second Language classes for non-native speakers looking to strengthen their language skills and integrate more independently into the community.

The KLC maintains many partnerships with local agencies to support the diverse needs of adults through initiatives at the neighborhood level. Community Literacy Centers, career pathways and resident engagement activities are woven into its strategic framework. As we celebrate the 50thanniversary of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, let us honor its legacy, the lives that have been uplifted, and the talents of those who serve its vision of achieving a fully literate community.

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Kalamazoo Public Library/ONEplace

For fifteen years, ONEplace has played a vital role in strengthening the capacity of nonprofit organizations throughout Kalamazoo County. With over 250 local nonprofits participating in programs and services annually, ONEplace serves as a critical resource for supporting skill-building and expanding leadership capabilities that prepare these organizations to maximize their impact.

In the last year, ONEplace supported over 3,400 individuals working or volunteering in the nonprofit sector. Our Core offerings include the ONEplace Emerging Leader Academy, Transformative Leadership Cohort, Workshops, technical assistance and nonprofit resources. Services are offered at no cost to participants thanks to our generous funding partners. The transformative impact of ONEplace’s work is backed by data. A comprehensive two-year evaluation was conducted by Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Center and found that ONEplace’s programs are highly effective and create meaningful impacts for participants.

By investing in nonprofit leadership, equity, governance, operational excellence and overall organizational strength, ONEplace fortifies the Kalamazoo nonprofit ecosystem. Our capacity-building efforts ensure local organizations can deliver maximum value to the communities they serve through effective programs, sustainable operations and cause-driven impact.

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Kalamazoo Nature Center

When people think of the Kalamazoo Nature Center (KNC), it’s usually our 14 miles of trails and 1,100 acres of forest and prairie that come to mind. Yet it’s our Visitor Center, designed in 1962 by Alden B. Dow, that brings the outside in. Its domed roof, round shape and angular lines embody the natural harmony of mid-century modern design.

After 64 years, the Visitor Center was showing its age until the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation and others made much-needed renovations possible.

The first step was to replace the iconic dome and roof. The double-pane glass on the new dome provides major savings in energy costs compared to the old single-pane glass. Adding four inches of foam insulation under the new roof also contributes to energy savings. All these upgrades help advance KNC’s mission of becoming carbon neutral by 2035.

Inside the Visitor Center, we have milled and polished the concrete floor, installed engineered hardwood and added acoustic materials to reduce echo. These changes improve the visitor experience for our 100,000-plusannual guests and are essential as we shift to museum-quality traveling exhibits.

The Visitor Center renovation has restored an architectural masterpiece and added new possibilities for hands-on educational encounters with nature. By bringing the outside in, we make it more accessible for all.

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