Greetings from Anchorage! Just when we thought spring was headed our way, we wake up to fresh snow! This what we call “second winter.” I hope you are enjoying longer days and hints of spring, wherever you are. Meanwhile, please enjoy the latest news from the Foundation.
— Diane Kaplan, president and CEO


Moving forward on Broadband

In late February, our board, leadership and I convened for a three-day special meeting. The main points of discussion were broadband, grant authorizations and staffing. The board authorized:

• A grant of $500,000 over four years to the University of Alaska to increase the number of graduates with master’s degrees in social work.

• $3 million through Dec. 31 to support year one of a multi-year effort to assist the State of Alaska and Tribes in the deployment of federal broadband dollars, with an emphasis on providing affordable high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved regions of Alaska.

Anchorage Rotary: “The Big Ed Fund”

Anchorage Rotary recently honored our late Chairman Ed Rasmuson, a steadfast Rotarian who never missed a meeting. “The Big Ed Fund” event raised more than $10,000 to address homelessness. Rasmuson Foundation will match funds raised. “The Big Ed Fund” will be awarded as a one-time gift this summer to a selected nonprofit on behalf of Ed. Chief of staff Jeff Baird, VP Angela Cox, Board member Cathy Rasmuson and I attended the event.

ATHENA inductees include Foundation board member

Foundation Board members Kathy Hurlburt and Curtis McQueen, at center, are surrounded by Foundation staff at this year’s ATHENA Society celebration.

We are delighted that our newest Board member, Dr. Kathy Hurlburt, was recently inducted into the ATHENA Society class of 2022. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce program recognizes strong Alaska women leaders in fields from health care to business, nonprofit service to the arts. Others inducted in March include Dr. Anne Zink of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, April Kyle of Southcentral Foundation, Celeste Hodge Growden of the Alaska Black Caucus, Michael Fredericks of SALT, Joelle Hall of the AFL-CIO, Tabetha Toloff of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. and Sonya Kelliher-Combs, an Individual Artist awardee and United States Artists fellow. Board member Curtis McQueen attended along with a contingent from the Foundation. The Anchorage Chamber has inductedover 350 women who open doors for other women and give back to their community. See all the 2022 honorees here.

ANSEP receives $5 million in emergency funds

New academies to help Alaska students excel will be started in Kotzebue, Dillingham and Juneau through $5 million from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s emergency relief fund awarded to the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program. The funds will develop summertime Acceleration Academies in those communities, along with a residential academy in Anchorage.

Herb Schroeder speaks to national funders on the 2021 Grantmakers Tour of Alaska. (Photo by Amber Johnson)

Herb Schroeder, founder and vice provost of ANSEP, credited the annual Grantmakers Tour of Alaska for connecting him with Dr. Michael Johnson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. Dr. Schroeder says: “It happened because of a relationship developed since first meeting Dr. Michael Johnson on the Grantmakers Tour of Alaska’s train ride years ago. … Thanks to you and the Foundation for believing in the ANSEP students and helping us to continue to build momentum.”

An indoor playground for all

Beth Nordlund, Sue Perles and me, at the Fairview Rec Center indoor playground grand opening.

I helped to open the new inclusive playground at Fairview Recreation Center on March 4. I remembered how frustrated our Chairman Ed would be to see parks bonds fail year after year after year even though city parks and playgrounds were in poor shape. We created the Anchorage Park Foundation to connect parks with neighborhood volunteers and city staff, and to advocate for improvements. Since then, every park bond has passed. Now Anchorage has world-class playgrounds, and 16 of them have surfaces and activities intentionally designed to be inclusive for all. Fairview Rec Center is Anchorage’s first indoor inclusive playground, and if the noise level at the grand opening was any indication, it offers big fun. Others who spoke at the ribbon cutting were: Mayor Dave Bronson; Assembly member Chris Constant; Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority CEO Steve Williams; and advocate, mother and Bettisworth North principal Leah Boltz, whose 2009 creation of Parks for All initiave brought the inclusive movement to Alaska.

Adams inducted into American Academy

John Luther Adams photo by Donald Lee

John Luther Adams, musician and 2010 Distinguished Artist, is among the 18 new members and three honorary members who will be inducted into the 2022 American Academy of Arts and Letters. The 2022 cohort was voted in by existing members and will be in the academy for life. This is considered the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in the country. Membership is limited to 300 architects, visual artists, composers and writers. The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers and writers. The academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in literature, music and the fine arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes totaling more than $1 million.

Meeting with the mayor

How can Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and his administration partner with Black leaders to strengthen the relationship? That was one of the topics discussed during a convening this month that brought together the mayor and Black leaders. Kim Waller, of The Foraker Group and Women’s Power League of Alaska, facilitated a discussion on how to build connections between the Anchorage Black community and this administration. VP Angela Cox, Roy Agloinga, external affairs program officer, and Sydney Copley, executive assistant, joined the conversation and will keep it moving forward. The mayor committed to another convening in the fall.

Millions more in recovery funds to Alaska nonprofits

Alaska nonprofits recently were awarded almost $9 million in help through American Recovery Plan Act funds distributed through The Alaska Community Foundation. VP Alex McKay helped review applications, and I sat in on the CEO final review panel. In this round, 94 nonprofits were granted funds, on top of 99 awards made in the first round. The ARPA Nonprofit Recovery Fund was launched with $20 million appropriated by the Alaska Legislature from Alaska’s share of the federal pandemic relief program. See the whole list from both rounds of funding here. Rasmuson Foundation advocated during last year’s legislative session for the $20 million nonprofit set-aside.

Governor appoints senior fellow to Alaska Council on the Homeless

Senior Fellow Michele Brown was recently named as a member of the Alaska Council on the Homeless. The council reviews and implements Alaska’s Plan to End Long Term Homelessness and shares findings and recommendations with the governor. MyHouse’s Michelle Overstreet is the chair.