KALAMAZOO – Kalamazoo College has received a $2.1 million project grant from the Arcus Foundation to help launch the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. The grant will fund the center’s programming plans for the first two years of operation, as well as the hiring of an executive director, academic director and support staff.
“The establishment of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in the city of Kalamazoo, where Arcus was founded, is an extraordinary highlight for the Foundation,” said Executive Director Urvashi Vaid. “Our unique and innovative collaboration with Kalamazoo College will combine the very best in higher education programs with a strong focus on developing the next generation of social justice leaders.”
The mission of the center will be to support the pursuit of human rights and social justice. The center will offer an array of programs, including lectures by individuals who are recognized for their work in the field of social justice; short-term residencies for scholars, artists and activists who will interact with the campus and the local community; opportunities for the development of new courses and leadership programs in the area of social justice and human rights; and conferences that address major issues related to the creation of a more just world.
“We are honored by the Arcus Foundation’s trust in our vision and thrilled to be able to make this vision a reality,” said Kalamazoo College President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran. “The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership will provide transformative experiences to our students and has the potential to bring national and global prominence to the College.”
This $2.1 million grant was preceded by a $200,000 initial planning grant from Arcus announced in April. In 2011, Arcus will likely consider an endowment request from the college to support the center’s ongoing operations.
During the summer, a committee of Kalamazoo College faculty, staff and students met to establish working goals for the Arcus Center, outline its guiding principles and strategies and determine responsibilities and requirements for staff members expected to be on the job by spring 2010.
“We are confident the Arcus Center will be a place where inspired and passionate new leaders will discover, debate and take action on the issues, approaches, challenges and opportunities that will bring the nation and the world ever closer to the realization of human rights and social justice for all people,” said Vaid.
The vision for a social justice leadership center at Kalamazoo College closely aligns with the Arcus Foundation’s social justice mission. Founded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, a “K” College trustee and 1982 Kalamazoo alumnus, the foundation pursues its social justice mission in Kalamazoo, in Michigan, as well as nationally and globally.
“The Arcus Center is consistent with Kalamazoo College’s mission to create enlightened leadership for a richly diverse increasingly complex world,” said Wilson-Oyelaran. “It will enable the College to integrate issues of social justice and human rights into its nationally recognized academic, service-learning and study abroad programs.”
The Arcus Center will be located on the Kalamazoo College campus at the corner of Academy and Monroe streets in the building formerly occupied by the L. Lee Stryker Center.