Every year, we invite leaders of major outside grantmakers to show them Alaska: the beauty and people, the challenges and stories of resilience. They spend a week learning about our state, an investment of time.

Photos from 2017 Grantmakers Tour by Sven Haakanson.

We estimate that the dozens of funders who have been on this educational tour since it began in 1997 have directed $112 million to Alaska nonprofits.

Today, on Sunday, our 22nd Annual Grantmakers Tour begins. It’s a packed week that starts in Yakutat, where Jenny Olson and E.A. Rasmuson met and married at the turn of the 20th century. We go to Anchorage then quickly get off the road system, visiting Bethel, Napaskiak and Utqiagvik, with a side trip to Prudhoe Bay.

In 1997, the first five grantmakers came up from the Lower 48 to learn about opportunities for giving. Elmer Rasmuson had ideas on what could result. Just two weeks before his death in 2000, the then-91-year-old Elmer talked about using Foundation money to attract outside funders to become partners in big Alaska projects, what we now call leveraging funds and one of our core principles. “Lasting effect for Alaska, so in years hence the foundation will have made a difference,” Diane Kaplan, the Foundation’s first employee and now its long-time president, underlined in her notes from that conversation.

This year our guests represent a broad range of interests: arts and health care, housing and community development, education and early childhood. They come from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation and Perigee Fund, the ArtPlace America collaboration with funders, and the charitable arms of Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Wells Fargo. We hope their journey deepens understanding of Alaska and helps them form lasting connections to the individuals who work to make it better.

If you encounter our Rasmuson Foundation traveling guests over the next week, say hello. And help us do good.

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