Elsewhere online
August 29, 2016

Proposed Kalamazoo Foundation Raises Concerns

The proposed Foundation for Excellence in Kalamazoo, Mich., has some local officials and philanthropy experts concerned about its impact on the local government, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The foundation, which would be established by the city government and initially funded by $70.3 million from two local philanthropists, would cover the city's budget shortfall, cut property taxes by a third, and fund programs to reduce poverty and help youths. But some question whether it would put too much power in the hands of wealthy donors. Others say it's a way to push an agenda to reduce taxes without going through the proper channels.

Leslie Lenkowsky, professor emeritus of public affairs and philanthropic studies at the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, noted that philanthopry is usually meant to provide services that the government cannot or will not provide — not to take over core government functions. 

Kalamazoo has cut services and eliminated hundreds of jobs at City Hall because of budget shortfalls in recent years. Supporters say the plan for the foundation would help the city improve its financial woes while also funding programs it can’t currently afford.