July 1 marked the beginning of the new fiscal year for the State of Alaska, which means the rubber just hit the road for a process that began in December 2011 with the introduction of the Governor’s operating, capital, and mental health budget proposals, continued through the legislative session this spring as lawmakers made their mark on the bills, and culminated in mid-May with the bills’ signing.

The State capital budget this year contains support for numerous active Rasmuson Foundation awards. We’re never the sole funder for a project and in some cases we structure our awards as “top off” grants. As we assess our funding opportunities, we tend to look favorably on projects that have secured local commitments, grants, individual contributions, municipal bonds, you name it. From time to time, our grantees seek some portion of project costs from State government; as a consequence, Foundation support of nonprofit capital projects occasionally intersects with the state capital budget.

Here are some examples of Foundation grants that can now take steps forward as a result of enactment of this year’s State capital budget, Senate Bill 160 (SB160):

Several of the projects listed above also passed successfully through The Foraker Group’s Pre-Development Program, a rigorous technical assistance process, co-funded by Rasmuson Foundation, Denali Commission, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Mat-Su Health Foundation, and now the State of Alaska. Pre-D assists municipalities and nonprofit organizations plan successful, stress-tested capital projects by subjecting concepts to a third-party evaluation, which often results in lower overall costs and increased sustainability. This year marks the first year the state co-funded Pre-D in its capital budget.

The State of Alaska supports nonprofits in its budgets where one might expect to see local governments or private funders exclusively. Why? Our smallest communities lack a sufficient tax base to fund projects alone; hub communities require help providing services to entire regions; common ownership of natural resources creates a unique relationship between the state, its residents and their needs; and, perhaps most importantly, state government regularly partners with nonprofits to deliver much needed services.

Rasmuson Foundation considers it a privilege to support Alaska’s nonprofit sector and it is heartening and most welcome to highlight examples of the State of Alaska pulling in the same direction.