A new grant program is expanding opportunities and quality experiences for Alaska children in day camps, outdoor camps, culture camps, faith-based camps, museum camps, learning pods, and summer programs.

A partnership awarded an initial round of funding for Alaska summer camps in May, and response was so great, a second round of grant applications is now open.

The Alaska Community Foundation is accepting applications through June 22. Nonprofits, Tribes, communities and faith-based organizations can APPLY HERE.

Successful requests will focus on increasing the number of young people who have access to camp experiences and improving the quality of the camp experience. Partners also hope to offset the pandemic’s distressing effects on summer programs and childcare organizations in 2020.

The positive response and additional funding provided by the Municipality of Anchorage guided the decision to increase support for summer camp and youth programming across Alaska and in Anchorage. Rasmuson Foundation initiated the camp program with a $400,000 commitment, then was joined by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, which invested $1 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Alaska Community Foundation is administering the program.

During the summer of 2020, camps operated at a severely reduced capacity or were canceled all together to comply with mitigation guidance aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. The cancellations and reduced capacities led to staff layoffs and lower revenues. These grants will provide funding support for summer 2021 to enable the hiring and training of staff so camps can open this summer at a higher capacity and allow for more opportunities for Alaska’s children.

“Following a year of tremendous change, Alaska’s children are in need of fun opportunities to stay engaged with their peers,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said when the program was announced. “By utilizing this CARES funding to assist with scholarships, staffing and additional expenses, Alaskan families can look forward to an active summer.”

“This project will serve as an economic stimulus for organizations that run summer camps and help provide opportunities for youth to stay active and engaged this summer, to address both the physical and social needs of our youth,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum. “This also allows working parents to safely transition back into the workplace if that is what is needed.”

The initial grant opportunity offered by Rasmuson Foundation generated $1.5 million of funding requests. DHSS stepped up with $1 million in funding to expand the program to meet the statewide need. ACF created the collaborative fund to support camps.

In May, the partnership awarded 63 grants in 32 communities totaling $1.28 million.

Camps can increase their capacity to serve Alaska’s youth by providing:
• Scholarships or support that assist in a family’s ability to pay for a child to attend camps.
• Program support for special expenses such as transportation or activity kits to reach youth who are unable to attend day or residential camps.
• Support for increased expenses due to COVID-19 mitigation.
• Additional camp staff to expand participation and access.

“For many of us, camp was a fundamental part of growing up. I know it was for me,” said Diane Kaplan, president and CEO, Rasmuson Foundation. “But some of our youth have never had an opportunity to experience it. I am so pleased the State of Alaska, Alaska Community Foundation, Municipality of Anchorage and Rasmuson Foundation could come together to support camps and that more youth will get to experience this as a result.”

Questions about applying for a grant? Contact The Alaska Community Foundation at grants@alaskacf.org or 907-334-6700.

[See all the grantees so far.]

All around Alaska, kids love summer camp. During a rural Alaska camp in 2019, these campers in a Camp Fire program show the results of their canning activity: salmonberry jelly. In 2021, many operators including Camp Fire Alaska are planning in-person camp tailored for these times.