This is my last President’s Report. My column closing this chapter was published in newspapers all over the state and on rasmuson.org. This gal from New York will keep Alaska front and center with forever friendships and strong connections.
Meanwhile, I hope you saw the recent news about our incoming CEO, Gretchen Guess. I am thrilled that a smart, savvy woman with deep Alaska roots will be taking the reins. Stay tuned for more from her soon.
Investments in Alaska reach $500 million
More nonprofit and tribal leaders will receive Sabbatical Awards. Individual Artist Award recipients will appreciate the first increase in grant size since 2012. Organizations all over Alaska will get help with priority projects. Our Board had a busy and productive two-day meeting Nov. 15 and 16 with strategy sessions on solving homelessness, bringing broadband to those without and more.
With the November 2022 grant awards, Rasmuson Foundation’s total investment in Alaska communities and people since our 1955 beginnings will top $500 million.
Read the press release on recent grant awards here.
Our Tour guests are sold on investing in Alaska
Recent investments in Alaska resulting from the Grantmakers Tour of Alaska are truly remarkable. In the last two years alone, Tour alumni awarded $95.4 million to Alaska-based organizations, compared to $57 million awarded by the Foundation. VP Angela Cox and Roy Agloinga, program officer of external affairs, have worked to build relationships with participants and potential participants and to track commitments related to the Tour.
2023 Sabbatical recipients announced
Leaders of six Alaska nonprofit organizations will get a chance to refresh, reset and renew in 2023 through a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Award. The 2023 sabbatical recipients are Stephanie Allen, United Way of Mat Su; Tamar Ben-Yosef, All Alaska Pediatric Partnership; Christina Eubanks, Hillcrest Children’s Center; Barbara Rodriguez-Rath, The Arc of Anchorage; Kimberly Schlosser, Sunshine Transit; and Flora Teo, Junior Achievement of Alaska
Including the 2023 recipients, the Foundation has awarded 107 sabbaticals. Read the full press release here.
Learning about the digital divide
We are moving ahead with listening sessions to gain insight into challenges to accessing fast and reliable internet. A number of community foundations have stepped up to organize local sessions as have the Alaska Municipal League, AARP, Alaska Warrior Partnership and Alaska Native Village Corporation Association. A guide to listening session facilitation is being prepared to help them be successful. The listening sessions will help us develop the State of Alaska’s digital equity plan, ensuring that groups that have been left out will have the same opportunities as those who already have fully connected digital lives.
Community comes together to celebrate Kodiak life
Two Kodiak nonprofits in September hosted the first Downtown Block Party, a celebration of what makes Kodiak a great and vibrant place to live. The Kodiak Community Foundation partnered with the Kodiak Arts Council for the event. So many people came and had so much fun that organizers already envision an annual occurrence. The event leaned on partnerships and volunteers from many different community entities and was truly a coming together and celebration of the wonderful island and the people who call it home.
Kodiak Community Foundation is one of 11 local funds in the Foundation’s Affiliate Program, which encourages local giving and grantmaking and helps local leaders identify issues and solutions.
Support for homegrown social workers
I spoke at a recent press conference putting attention on a public-private partnership to increase the number of homegrown and clinically licensed social workers in Alaska. Recover Alaska, the collaborative we started to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, is leading the effort and coordinated $1.5 million in grants to help the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Social Work more than double the number of MSW graduates over five years. They will increase enrollment, establish a pathway to licensure, add faculty and staff, and offer continuing education. In addition to Recover Alaska, other funding partners are Alaska Department of Health, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Premera Blue Cross, Providence Alaska, Rasmuson Foundation and Southcentral Foundation.
Celebrating philanthropy in Alaska
I was thrilled to take part in Alaska Philanthropy Day with Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska’s Paul Hollie. We nominated Premera as the “Outstanding Corporation in Philanthropy.” The Association of Fundraising Professionals Alaska Chapter award recognizes a business’s commitment to supporting communities and philanthropy.
In the company of amazing women and girls
Foundation staff and Board members Angela Salazar and Rebecca Brice Henderson joined me in November to celebrate the 33rd annual YWCA Women of Achievement & Youth Awards. Ten women including Shauna Hegna of Koniag Inc., her twin, Sarah Lukin of Cook Inlet Region Inc., and Lubov Belavtseva-O’Hare of Catholic Social Services refugee resettlement program were recognized as Women of Achievement. Just as impressive were the youth honorees. Keep your eyes on Leena Edais, Mary Kim, Sixca Michael, Cindy Sanchez and Loretta Solema Ueselani. They are going places! I was honored to receive the Arliss Sturgulewski Award and spoke about the women who have influenced me including former Foundation board members Kris Norosz, Morgan Christen and Sharon Gagnon.
Connecting with Indigenous Arctic leaders and scientists
Program Officer Deborah Vo, who serves on the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, says the organization is busy working on its 2023-2024 goals to present to President Biden early next year. The commission recently held its 115th (!) meeting in Fairbanks and heard from experts on its research goals. She was among the commissioners who also attended the 2022 Arctic Circle in Reykjavik, Iceland, to listen, learn and network with scientists, Indigenous Arctic leaders and many others from Canada, Greenland, Norway, Denmark and the rest of the Arctic. The group is looking forward to the release of the 2023-2024 goals report as climate change and the Earth’s warming increase pressure on the Arctic, its peoples, nations and the world.
Happy holidays from the Foundation!
I hosted our staff for our annual holiday party. We lit menorah candles, the Mitra Brothers sang, guest musician Yngvil Vatn Guttu led a staff Beatle-esque song tribute, and there was a short film by a Program Team trio. Fun was had by all!