A therapeutic court for Mat-Su families in crisis, a new roof for a Fairbanks homeless shelter and a portable health clinic for the eroding Northwest Alaska village of Kivalina were among 16 projects recently approved by the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors.
In all, $11.4 million in grant awards received the go-ahead from the Board at its June 27 meeting in Anchorage, Rasmuson Foundation announced today. The Board must approve grants over $25,000, which it does at meetings each November and June.
The biggest single award, $5 million, represents a multi-year commitment to the next phase of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program, which the Foundation has invested in since 2002. ANSEP offers a variety of supports to prepare students in middle school on up for college, and to help those in college succeed. The grant to the University of Alaska Foundation will help ANSEP establish what it calls an Acceleration Academy for high school students in Anchorage, similar to one already making a difference in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Alexandra McKay, the Foundation’s vice president of programs, said the June awards reflect Alaskans’ generosity, creativity and innovation.
“These grants show the ways — large and small — that Alaskans find solutions to problems, whether it is building a portable clinic for a community like Kivalina that needs to be relocated or an organization like ANSEP that is creating pathways for students from middle school to college,” McKay said.
Other significant awards were designated for partners Museums Alaska ($1,298,000 over three years) and the Alaska State Council on the Arts ($1,340,000 over four years) to continue vital work in the arts. Museums Alaska will use its grant to help local museums acquire art and manage their collections. The state council provides grants to local organizations for arts in education, arts touring and youth cultural heritage programs.
In Kivalina, the Foundation is awarding Maniilaq Association $150,000 for a nearly $1 million project to expand and improve the existing health clinic, configured back in 2006 from two repurposed Conex containers. The Northwest Arctic region village is threatened by climate-related erosion. Little money has been invested in recent years to improve basic structures in a community with a designated new site on higher ground. Yet Kivalina is still home to about 500 people. The clinic is getting a sorely needed redo that will add space for a trauma room, exam room and the village’s first dental clinic. The expanded clinic can move inland when Kivalina does.
“This is huge for the kids and the community,” said Augustas Kirkland, Maniilaq Association dental program manager. Children are suffering from toothaches and decay for lack of a permanent clinic for care, he said. “This expansion is key to the success of what we do in this village.”
The new grant awards dot the state. In Southeast Alaska, an award of up to $330,000 will help the Sitka Sound Science Center rehabilitate and modernize its historic Sitka Sawmill Building, built in 1934. The project will add plumbing, restrooms and central heat; stabilize the foundation; and create a new exterior envelop with reclaimed or replicated materials. The building has transformed over the years from vocational training center to salmon hatchery to its current use as a multi-purpose science, education and art building that includes a summer gift shop.
In Fairbanks, a $92,000 grant will help pay for a new roof at the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, the only emergency shelter for men, women and children in Interior Alaska. The building itself was vulnerable to damage because of the deteriorated roof.
In Palmer, Mat-Su Health Foundation is receiving $375,000 over three years to help create the Families with Infants and Toddlers Court. This therapeutic court will serve families and children up to age 3 who have been removed from their parents due to allegations of abuse and neglect.
And the nonprofit that runs the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer is receiving $350,000 to renovate the historic Colony Barn. Mark Austin, Musk Ox Development Corp. executive director, said an “exciting new era for the farm is charging towards the finish line. Once completed this building will allow for the organization to reach wonderful new heights in programming and community outreach.”
Go here for snapshots of all the awards: