Bell’s founder gives $5.25M to alma mater

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Larry Bell, who graduated in 1980, previously supported his alma mater in 2006 with a contribution to the college’s food justice initiatives and the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement. Also pictured are his wife, Shannon Bell, left, and Kalamazoo College President Jorge Gonzalez. Courtesy Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo College received a $5.25 million gift from alumnus and Bell’s Brewery founder Larry Bell.

Bell’s gift will support the college’s Brighter Light Campaign, the Center for Environmental Stewardship, the Larry J. Bell ’80 Endowed Scholarship and the Kalamazoo College Fund.

“I am proud to support Kalamazoo College with this gift, and I look forward to seeing the resulting positive outcomes for K’s students,” Bell said. “I hope that the coming Larry J. Bell Library Foundation can be a help and resource to the history department in the future, and having an endowed chair there will elevate and strengthen this part of the college.”

The Brighter Light Campaign is raising $150 million to provide endowed and annual support for students, faculty and staff, curricular and co-curricular activities, athletics and campus facilities.

The Center for Environmental Stewardship is a food justice and sustainability program, and the Kalamazoo College Fund provides immediate funding toward financial aid.

Bell, who graduated in 1980, has supported his alma mater before. In 2006, he contributed to an endowment named for his friend and mentor, Paul Todd. His gift supported the college’s food justice initiatives and the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement.

“Larry’s investment in Kalamazoo College has supported and will continue to support the college’s experiential education offerings, as well as faculty teaching and scholarship for years to come,” President Jorge Gonzalez said. “His gift to endow and name the Larry J. Bell ’80 Center for Environmental Stewardship, for example, will help us enhance the curriculum, integrate these curricular initiatives with student organizations, and provide new ways for students to engage in environmental leadership efforts on our campus and throughout the greater Kalamazoo community. We are so grateful for Larry’s generous support and commitment toward expanding opportunities and access for our students.”

Bell founded Bell’s Brewery in 1989, and the brewery since has grown into one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S., distributing to 43 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

He retired from Bell’s Brewery at the end of 2021 after he sold the company to Lion, the Australia-based parent company of New Belgium Brewing.

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