Program Associate Jeff Baird had the opportunity to participate in a grantmakers tour last month and hear a little about the needs in rural communities. Unfortunately, some of the community priorities don't align with what the Foundation funds - but many do. Here's a list to get you thinking.

Upgrades to a community's playground is a project that might be eligible for Rasmuson Foundation support.

I had an opportunity to participate in the Interior Regional Housing Authority’s grantmakers tour last month. I joined funders representing a range of state and federal organizations in  visiting Dot Lake, Northway, Tanacross, Tetlin and Tok — all accessible from the Glenn Highway and about 300 miles northeast of Anchorage. We were graciously welcomed by each community and had the opportunity to hear a little about their needs.

Unfortunately, some of the community priorities don’t align with what the Foundation funds. Core infrastructure are not eligible for support, so we are not going to be able to help with road, sewer and waste needs.

Yet Rasmuson Foundation is very active in rural Alaska. And in an effort to give our rural partners a better idea of that we have supported, I took a look back at some of our recent projects in rural communities and separated them out into common types of requests (furniture, building construction/renovation and vehicle/equipment grants). This list is not exhaustive, just some examples to get you thinking.

Examples of furniture requests:

  • Furniture for the tribal building in Sleetmute;
  • Tables and chairs for the community center in Native Village of St. Michael.

What to think about when considering a furniture request:

  1. Do you have other funding sources? While we have no match requirement, Rasmuson Foundation is rarely going to be the sole project funder.
  2. Did you ask for a nonprofit discount? Sometimes the vendor will cut you a break on the price if you ask. (Be sure to include the discount on the project budget!)
  3. Tell us your current situation and how the request will change/improve it.


Examples of building construction/remodel requests:

  • An upgrade to the baseboard heating system in Nome;
  • Expand the lobby of Naknek’s Kvimarvik Pool for use as a community recreation room;
  • Remodel of Sitka Tribe’s tannery facility;
  • Re-construction of an emergency ramp and platform for Nelson Lagoon Clinic;
  • Insulation/renovation of a heating system in Chickaloon’s Lukae Hwnax (Fish House) building;
  • Construction of a community senior center in Yakutat;
  • Installation of a well for a new community health clinic in Igiugig Village;
  • Cabin for cultural camp activities and emergency shelter in Native Village of Mary’s Igloo;
  • Renovation of the community health clinic to include dentistry in Yakutat;
  • Renovation of the Town Hall to improve energy efficiency in Metlakatla Indian Community;
  • Upgrades to Traditional Knowledge Camp in Chilkat Indian Village;
  • Prefabricated cabins for a youth and elders camp in Native Village of Afognak;
  • Construction of multi-use facility in Native Village of Perryville;
  • Repair domestic violence safe house in Tanacross.

What to think about when considering a construction request:

  1. Is your project “shovel ready”? We like the project to be ready to go pending our funding.
  2. Will the project impact organization’s sustainability? If the project will, for example, reduce your energy bill, provide us with the details.
  3. Did you get multiple bids? Shop around if you can.
  4. Did you capture the value of volunteer labor in your project budget?
  5. If you’re leasing the facility you want renovated, spell out the lease terms.


Examples of vehicles/equipment requests:

  • Purchase of a sawmill in Crooked Creek;
  • Purchase of search and rescue equipment in Nenana;
  • Equipment for recycling program in Kwigillingok;
  • Construction of a green house in New Stuyahok;
  • Collection enhancements for the Klukwan Library;
  • Purchase and completion of 10 traditional kayaks and related equipment in Kwigillingok;
  • Purchase and installation of gun safes in Togiak;
  • Replacement of boilers in assisted-living elders’ residence in Tanana;
  • Community playground in Native Village of Brevig Mission;
  • A boat for Culture Camp in Kiana;
  • Purchase of a wood mizer and earth stove for a carving shed in Hydaburg;
  • Wall tents and tent frames for subsistence area in Kotzebue;
  • Construct shelter for outdoor cultural and recreational activities in Kasaan;
  • Quonset-style tents and water filtration tank for use at annual summer camps in Village of Old Harbor;
  • Purchase new vehicle for village support programs in Barrow.

What to think about when considering an equipment/vehicle request:

  1. Is there potential to share/collaborate with other community nonprofits?
  2. Do you have a vehicle/equipment maintenance plan?
  3. Do you have a place to store the vehicle or equipment?
  4. Have you drafted a document stating who can use the vehicle or equipment and under what circumstances?
  5. Do you have an equipment replacement fund?


Examples of requests to support creative works and other project types:

  • Support for trail and site development on Afognak Island;
  • Production of the Chief Son-I-Hat Whale House film documentary in Kasaan;
  • Publication of the book, ‘Imam Cimiucia: Our Changing Sea’ in Port Graham.


That’s just a small selection of Rasmuson Foundation grants to rural projects. You can also search past awards online. Please reach out to us you want to chat about your idea.