Southwest Michigan First

Southwest Michigan First is the catalyst stimulating growth across the Kalamazoo Region. Nationally recognized for its groundbreaking Community Capitalism approach to economic development, Southwest Michigan First is a private, nonprofit corporation fully committed to its mission of jobs and wealth creation. Its commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship has fostered the creation of the world-renowned Kalamazoo Promise college scholarship program; the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, a life science accelerator that has launched more than three dozen start-ups; the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator; the $50 million Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, the nation's largest community-based venture fund; and First Angels, an angel network providing seed money to young entrepreneurs.

For more information, visit or telephone 269.553.9588.


Excellence in Education and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation

In the spring of 1986, representatives from several area public and non-public schools gathered at the invitation of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation to develop a program that would honor and recognize both students and educators who demonstrate excellence. Started in 1989 with funds from the Monroe-Brown Foundation and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, the program honors the top 2.5 percent of Kalamazoo County graduates.

In the spring of 1992, the Monroe-Brown Foundation issued a $300,000 challenge grant to the community to provide a permanent fund that would enable the Excellence in Education program to continue. Within months, five area foundations matched the challenge grant. They were soon joined by individuals, businesses, and organizations offering their support.


Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center

KAMSC was started in the early 1980s to provide a Math & Science curriculum to the most talented high school students in Kalamazoo County. Pharmacia (now Pfizer) provided substantial support for the founding of the school. In 1991, the Monroe-Brown Foundation gifted $150,000 toward a successful $550,000 challenge grant to upgrade and expand the facilities and programs.

To learn more about the Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center, please visit