One Kalamazoo, One Community
One Kalamazoo, One Community alludes to the American ideal that we are one people, and
that our prosperity and quality of life depend on all residents sharing in and contributing fully to
the economic, social and cultural life of our community. Unfortunately, the rising poverty rate
and associated negative trends in many quality of life indicators show that we have been
moving further away from this ideal in recent years. One Kalamazoo, One Community is
intended to function simultaneously as a poverty indicators monitoring system, an information
infrastructure to help community agencies enable children from all backgrounds to achieve the
American Dream, and as a communications campaign that ensures that the voices of poor
people and the need to eliminate poverty remain in the forefront of public consciousness.
The first component of One Kalamazoo, One Community is an information system that includes
monitoring trends in poverty and poverty-related quality of life indicators (eg., food security,
access to adequate health care, education, housing), as well as supply and demand for social,
educational, medical and employment services. A second component involves evaluation
research by social scientists from Western Michigan University who will assess how adequately
community resources and services are working (individually and collectively) to reduce poverty.
The third component of One Kalamazoo, One Community is a public information campaign that
juxtaposes information about the impact of poverty in our community with the highest ideals
that we Americans embrace and espouse.
We expect that One Kalamazoo, One Community will lead to the creation of a network of
citizens energized to work collaboratively to eliminate poverty that includes: service providers
from both the non-profit and public sectors; faith-based and other community organizations;
university-based researchers; and the people, themselves, including those who are poor.
The economic, social and cultural vitality of Kalamazoo depends on all people having the basic
resources needed to contribute and participate fully in community life. Our city and our county
cannot prosper in the long run when such a large and growing number of our citizens are
encumbered by poverty. By highlighting how far we are from providing so many of our children
and families with the most basic building blocks for a prosperous future, One Southwest
Michigan, One Community seeks to enable residents from all backgrounds to envision a brighter
future for our region, and what it will take to get there.