Liz Berry Gips and Don Gips, two guests on the 2021 tour, find joy alongside Arctic Ocean sea ice near Utqiaġvik on Aug. 17, 2021. (Photo by Emily Cho)

Every summer we invite philanthropic leaders from the Lower 48 to take part in a jam-packed tour of Alaska. For six days, they learn about life in remote communities; engage in heart-to-heart talks with tribal and Alaska Native corporate leaders; sit at the table with U.S. senators and other public officials; and connect with visionaries from Alaska nonprofits and tribal organizations to learn about challenges — and innovative solutions.

On Sunday, our 25th Grantmakers Tour of Alaska begins.

The goal is to make connections, share ideas and, ultimately, encourage investment in Alaska.

Join us in welcoming this year’s guests: Marsha Bonner, senior director, Annenberg Foundation; Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO, The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Jeff Bradach, co-founder, The Bridgespan Group; Gail Small, advisory board member, Direct Relief; Sam Gill, president and CEO, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Dr. Rajiv Shah, president, The Rockefeller Foundation; Sandy Herz, president, Sobrato Philanthropies; Shivam Mallick Shah, president, Summit Advisors; and Paula Pretlow, trustee, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

The places we will go on our 2022 tour.

First stop on Sunday is Yakutat, where E.A. Rasmuson and Jenny Olson — later Jenny Rasmuson — settled in the early 1900s with a calling to give back. From Southeast it’s a quick stop in Anchorage then our visitors get right to it, heading on Monday to the Bering Strait region with stops in Shishmaref and Nome. On Tuesday they tour Anchorage nonprofit and tribal organizations and Wednesday, they are on to Prudhoe Bay and the city at the Top of the World, Utqiaġvik. On Thursday, they will be briefed on state and federal issues, then fly across Cook Inlet to Silver Salmon Creek fish camp to connect with one another and Alaska Native leaders.

Since the first tour in 1997, we estimate that participants have directed more than $325 million to Alaska projects. Some organizations have been represented on multiple tours, sending new leaders each time. First-time guests gain deep insights, too. A 2019 participant, Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, awarded $20 million last year to improve sanitation in rural Alaska and recently announced $1.3 million to Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation for Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass. With one exception, 2020, we’ve held the tour every year since it began.

On the tour, we make connections to keep the 49th State in the hearts and minds of national funders. We invite you to follow along on our social media platforms and if you see us out and about, say “hello!”