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Kalamazoo's Tendaji Giving Circle Grows

Tendaji is a Swahili word which means: make things happen. But it is also the name of a giving circle made up of African American women in the Kalamazoo community.

Credit Courtesy photo | Tendaji
Tendaji's top grant winner this year, Joseph E. Fox and Bridget Tucker Gonder of the Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Center, at center, received $15,000.

Tendaji donated over $27,000 this fall to three local initiatives benefiting African Americans: the Helen L. Fox Gospel Music Center; the Kalamazoo Institute of Art’s “Black Refractions Exhibit”; and the Healthy House transitional home for women in recovery. The  music center received the largest grant, $15,000.

Tendaji Co-Founder Sabrina Pritchett-Evans says the giving circle’s second biggest donation of $10,000 to the “Black Refractions” exhibit is an opportunity to be part of history. The traveling exhibit from Harlem represents the nation’s best African-American Art. This fall was also the first time in the KIA’s history that its permanent collection was taken down to make way for this special exhibit.

“Children across the Midwest will be able to go through the museum and see art that looks like them,” Pritchett-Evans says. “And for those that the artwork doesn’t look like them, they will be able to have discussions about the importance of diversity and inclusion looks like in the arts.”

Healthy House was awarded $2,375.

This is the giving circle’s second year of grantmaking. Tendaji co-founder Sabrina Pritchett-Evans says she hopes the group’s membership will continue to grow.

“Traditionally African Americans have not been part of giving circles and that’s just how it’s been,” Pritchett-Evans says. “So we would like others to see us and say ‘It’s possible!’”

The Tendaji giving circle is made up of African-American women from various professional fields. Each contributes a thousand dollars a year. Pritchett-Evans says the organization shows a unified front of support for the African-American community in Kalamazoo.

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Credit Courtesy photo | Tendaji
Some of the more than 26 members of Tendaji, an African American women's giving circle founded in 2018 in Kalamazoo.

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