Provide affordable spaces and services for the arts, startups, and community organizations to prosper, while preserving the beauty of downtown Kalamazoo.


Assure sustainability of the historic First Baptist Church building to celebrate the arts and enhance the livelihood and culture of Kalamazoo.

Our Beginning

In the summer of 2017, a number of organizations came together to form the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition (KNAC) out of a dual desire to preserve historic buildings and to provide below-market-rate space for organizations committed to alleviating poverty, eliminating discrimination and promoting the arts and received its 501(c)3 tax exempt status on October 15th of 2018.

KNAC has been working quietly for the past two years, gathering 25 organizations to share space in the historic First Baptist Church, whose 1853 structure is the oldest public building in Kalamazoo. 

The 315 W. Michigan Avenue site is now bustling with activity and the church is finding it easier to pay the expenses of operating the building. The organizations housed there are delighted to have found reasonable space in an ideal location.

Our Future

The First Baptist Church congregation is now planning on donating its building to KNAC, the first major gift the coalition will receive. Along with this gift comes the responsibility for KNAC not only to manage the building and its users, but to maintain and upgrade the building in ways that will keep it a central feature of Kalamazoo for decades to come. 

If you live in Kalamazoo, if you value history, if you support community growth and equity, please consider supporting this project with a donation today!


Values define who we are, guiding our day to day activities towards a realization of a desirable future.  At KNAC, these are the values that we embrace and celebrate and for which our tenant groups actively advocate for and practice:

  • Equity: We identify and strive to alleviate the dislocations often caused by social, economic, and demographic differences among us.
  • Arts and Culture: We celebrate and support the arts because we understand that they are powerful, beautiful, and irreplaceable to any thriving community.
  • Community: We are part of the Kalamazoo neighborhood, where together we serve others through our shared values, collaborate to provide solutions and demonstrate responsibility, charity, and care.
  • Diversity & Inclusion: We embrace and include differences within our tenant groups, the communities they serve, and the audiences that celebrate the arts.
  • Historic Preservation: We realize our history enriches our sense of place, and endeavor to safeguard the past while reimagining the future with a renewed sense of purpose and the opportunity to create impactful lifelong memories.


Elise Ripmaster

Building Manager

Board of Directors

Dr. D. Terry Williams

WMU Department of Theater (Ret.)

Dann Sytsma (President)

Crawlspace Theatre Productions

Eugene Chua (VP of Property & Personnel)

Tye Chua Dance

Tom Horwath (VP of Finance)

Seber Tans, PLC

Nicholas Clarkson (VP of Communications)


Jack Abate

Miller Davis

Jeremy Koch

Farmers Alley Theatre

Nathan Dannison

Kalamazoo First Congregational Church

Nelson Nave

Nelson Breech Nave, AIA

Nicholas Baxter

Artist / Poet / Musician

Robert Zimmer

Western Michigan University

Stacey Brown

Community Member / First Baptist Church

Matt Hollander

Hollander Development

General Inquiries

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315 W. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007