For immediate release
Dec. 18, 2020
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555 (cell)

On the edge of Galena, the sun rises over the Yukon River on Dec. 5, 2020. In 2013, flooding caused widespread destruction and evacuations in the community. (Photo courtesy Louden Tribal Council)

Anchorage, AK – A program to encourage and grow philanthropy across Alaska received a five-year, $5 million commitment from the Rasmuson Foundation board.

Funding for the Alaska Community Foundation Affiliate Program will be used to encourage local donations, grow funds for community-driven projects, and help local leaders identify problems and solutions.

“Already 11 communities have joined the program and created local funds that support important projects like playground upgrades, rescue equipment and care for seniors,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Additional communities now will receive support to create their own local funds.” And those already in the program — Cordova, Fairbanks, Haines, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Palmer, Petersburg, Seward, Sitka and Talkeetna — will grow even deeper roots.

The Affiliate Program was one of several long-standing programs renewed by the Foundation’s Board at its November meeting. The Foundation’s Sabbatical Program, which provides resources to nonprofits and tribes so executive leadership can disengage from work and recharge, was approved for three more years. Reducing the harm caused by alcohol misuse will receive focused attention for another three years, through the Recover Alaska partnership that aims to change public attitudes about drinking. In addition, Alaska’s nationally recognized oral health training program will receive funding to support its rural component for another year.

Last, four Alaska projects filling very different needs — homeless shelter, community gathering space, crisis treatment center and science center — can move ahead with support from Rasmuson Foundation.

In all, the board approved spending $8.7 million for these key projects.

“Given the upheaval caused by COVID, our board focused on projects that are construction ready and that will address emergency needs, as well as on proven models that already are helping Alaskans live better lives,” said Alexandra McKay, Rasmuson Foundation vice president of programs. “Some of the projects have been needed for a while, but with the pandemic, demand reached crisis levels.”

For instance, in Juneau, The Glory Hall has long served people who are hungry and experiencing homelessness. When coronavirus hit and social distancing became the norm, many who had relied on the shelter as a safe warm place had nowhere to go during the day and moved to a temporary location at night. A new modern shelter is now on an aggressive timeline for completion in 2021.

“This new shelter will not only mean more space, it will provide a safer and more stable environment to help clients move out of homelessness,” said Todd Shenk, Foundation senior program officer. “It’s being built next door to a new nonprofit hub. We know from experience and research that it works much better when services reach clients where they are, instead of waiting for clients to come to them.”

Other capital projects receiving support include:

  • A community gathering place in Galena that will be part of the Louden Tribal Council’s new multipurpose building;
  • A crisis stabilization facility to provide more options for care at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau; and
  • A new campus for the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova.

See the attached list for all the grants and initiatives approved by the Rasmuson Foundation board in November.

[Download press release]

[Download November 2020 approved initiatives and grants]

The Louden Tribal Council has been working out of what used to be a two-bedroom house. A group that included current council members as well as several from 2013, the flood year, gathered on Dec. 5, 2020, for a meeting. Pictured from left to right: First Chief Charlie Green, Second Chief Teekona Sweetsir, current members Nicole Gregory, Russ Sweetsir, Marie Cleaver, and Jenny Bryant, former member Tiffany George, current member Stanley Tyler Huntington, and former member Jenny Pelkola.  Not pictured are former members Joyce Huntington and Alvin Williams. (Photo courtesy of Louden Tribal Council.)

 About the Foundation
Through grantmaking and initiatives, Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, E.A. Rasmuson.