National Philanthropy Day is November 15.
At the Alaska Community Foundation, we’re part of a much larger movement that is nearing the end of its first century of existence. As we compare ourselves with older community foundations across the nation, we realize the magnitude of the work we are doing and the work that stands before us. Established sixteen years ago, the Alaska Community Foundation works to grow philanthropy and build community in an effort to improve the quality of life across Alaska now and forever. In our large state, that can be a daunting task.
In order to grow philanthropy in Alaska, we need to have a true understanding of what Alaskans and our communities across the state need to be successful. One way we accomplish this is to work with advisory boards in our affiliate communities, Chilkat Valley, Kenai Penninsula, Petersburg, Seward, and Talkeetna to better understand their local needs and to provide support to local leaders as they set community goals and raise permanent community chests for their future.
Another way we work to help build community is by providing opportunities for community members and our fund advisors to have open conversations about community issues. Over the past year we have hosted dozens of “Conversations about causes that matter.” The topics we have discussed range from childhood hunger to healthcare to family philanthropy. These gatherings engage citizens to both understand and become involved in tackling the challenging issues facing Alaska now and in the future.
Two unique gatherings we have hosted include a televised production of a round table panel conversation about teen suicide, and a two day community building event. The two day convening was facilitated by Louise Van Ryhn, a social architect from South Africa, who worked with over 125 Alaskans from 20 communities across the state to explore our collective and individual visions for Alaska. The convening provided experiential training for those in attendance about how to facilitate high stakes conversations and inspired many of them to re-evaluate their role in building a strong future for Alaska.
The panel discussion on teen suicide included experts on the topic and showcased scenes from a powerful play, Winter Bear, which addresses teen suicide in rural Alaska. This new, televised approach will enable us to reach a much wider audience and to engage Alaskans in a technology based conversation using our new community web platform, townsquare49.org. This site is a joint project between ACF and the Alaska Public Telecommunications, Inc., funded by the Knight Foundation, to address community information needs. Our hope is that it becomes the virtual place where Alaskans can join together in a 21st century dialogue about the best way to address those issues identified.
As our nation celebrates community foundation week and as our field enters its 100th year of existence, ACF is proud to hold true to our core principal of building permanent endowments that help us create the future we hope for tomorrow. However, we also recognize our need to stretch, grow, and adapt. We are excited to incorporate new technology and opportunities to connect people who care with causes that matter. Alaskans who are looking to make a difference in our state look to the Alaska Community Foundation for leadership and help with translating their ideas and passion into community impact today and tomorrow.
Conversations that Matter: Teen Suicide in Alaska will air on the following:
KAKM Channel 7 on Tuesday, November 29 at 9 PM
KSKA FM 91.1 on Thursday, December 1 at 2 and 7 PM