Our Foundation

We are a family foundation created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson and her son, Elmer Rasmuson. Over three generations, the Rasmusons built up the family-owned bank, then leveraged its sale in 1999 to turn the Foundation into the largest private funder in Alaska. Our focus is Alaska: the people and communities that make our state.

Giving back

The Foundation encourages employees to volunteer. Here, a staff member is helping to paint the gym at the AK Child & Family treatment center as part of the 2022 United Way Day of Caring. (Photo courtesy of United Way)

Our mission is clear: To promote a better life for Alaskans. We award grants to Alaska-based nonprofits, local governments, tribes and individual artists, and we explore ways of making Alaska a healthier and more vibrant place through convenings and close collaborations with those in the know. Since our beginnings in 1955, the Foundation has given more than $515 million toward this mission.

Areas of focus

We believe success comes through people with great ideas, projects with long-lasting benefits and community-driven solutions. We support projects that promote:

  • Quality health care and social support
  • Thriving people and communities
  • Education and economic possibility
  • Vibrant arts and culture
  • Philanthropic and civic responsibility


If one person can bring change, imagine the possibilities when we band together to provide resources, exchange ideas and share our stories. The strong partnerships we have formed over the years take on big challenges like homelessness and alcohol misuse to work toward systemic change. We often hold convenings to seek out ideas and perspectives from experts with specific knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes solutions are simple, sometimes they are long-range and high-risk. All come with one goal in mind — to make a difference in the lives of Alaskans.

Respect and inclusion

One of our grantmaking principles is to embrace the diversity that is Alaska. We work alongside our partners to build a culture of inclusion and foster a diverse range of views. By embracing our differences and similarities, we create safe spaces for conversations where all are encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives. 

In November 2019, the Foundation celebrated the rededication of the Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson Theater at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Board members Adam, Jay and Lile Gibbons and staff members Roy Agloinga and Chief of Staff Jeff Baird enjoyed time with the Alaska tribal funk group Pamyua inside the theater. (Photo by Katherine Fogden, NMAI)